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of the 

Ohio State University 

Presented by 

George Stambaugh 




Droll Stories 





Nile Publishing Company 

Copyright, 1890, by NILE PUBLISHING COMPANY. 


When, in March, 1832, the first volume of the now 
famous Contes Drolatiques was published by Gosselin of 
Paris, Balzac, in a short preface written in the publish- 
er's name, replied to those attacks which he anticipated 
certain critics would make upon his hardy experiment. 
He claimed for his book the protection of all those to 
whom literature was dear, because it was a work of art — 
and a work of art, in the highest sense of the word, it 
undoubtedly is. Like Boccaccio, Rabelais, the Queen 
of Navarre, Ariosto, and Verville, the great author of 
The Human Conitdy has painted an epoch. In the fresh 
and wonderful language of the Merry Vicar of Meudon, 
he has given us a marvelous picture of French life and 
manners in the sixteenth century. The gallant knights 
and merry dames of that eventful period of French his- 
tory stand out in bold relief upon his canvas. The back- 
ground to these life-like figures is, as it were, "sketches 
upon the spot. " After reading the Contes Drolatiques, 
one could almost find one's way about the towns and vil- 
lages of Touraine, unassisted by map or guide. Not 
only is this book a work of art from its historical infor- 
mation and typographical accuracy; its claims to that 
distinction rest upon a broader foundation. Written in 
the nineteenth century in imitation of the style of the 


sixteenth, It is a triumph of literary archaeology. It is a 
model of that which it professes to imitate; the produc- 
tion of a writer who, to accomplish it, must have been at 
once historian, linguist, philosopher, archaeologist, and 
anatomist, and each in no ordinary degree. In France 
his work has long been regarded as a classic — as a faith- 
ful picture of the last days of the moyen age, when kings 
and princesses, brave gentlemen and haughty ladies, 
laughed openly at stories and jokes which are considered 
disgraceful by their more fastidious descendants. In 
America the difficulties of the language employed, and 
the quaintness and peculiarty of its style, have placed it 
beyond the reach of all but those thoroughly acquainted 
with the French of the sixteenth century. Taking into 
consideration the vast amount of historical information 
enshrined in its pages, the archaeological value which it 
must always possess for the student, and the dramatic 
interest of its stories, the translator has thought that an 
English edition of Balzac's chef-d'oeuvre would be ac- 
ceptable to many. It has, of course, been impossible to 
reproduce in all its vigor and freshness the language of 
the original. Many of the quips and cranks and puns 
have been lost in the process of Anglicizing. These un- 
avoidable blemishes apart, the writer ventures to hope 
that he has treated this great masterpiece in a reverent 
spirit, touched it with no sacrilegious hand, but on the 
contrary, given as close a translation as the dissimilarities 
of the two languages permit. With this idea no attempt 
has been made to polish or round many of the awkwardly 
constructed sentences which are characteristic of this 
volume. Rough, and occasionally obscure, they are far 
more in keeping with the spirit of the original than the 
polished periods of modern romance. Taking into con- 
sideration the many difficulties which he has had to over- 


come, and w^ich those best acquainted with the French 
edition will best appreciate, the translator claims the in- 
dulgence of the critical reader for any shortcomings he 
may discover. 


This is a book of the highest flavor, full of right hearty 
merriment, spiced to the palate of the illustrious and very 
precious tosspots and drinker, to whom our worthy com- 
patriot, Francois Rabelais, the eternal honor of Touraine, 
addressed himself. Be it nevertheless understood, the 
author has no other desire than to be a good Tourainian, 
and joyfully to chronicle the merry doings of the famous 
people of this sweet and productive land, more fertile in 
cuckolds, dandies, and witty wags than any other, and 
which has furnished a good share of men of renown to 
France, as witness the departed Courier of piquant mem- 
ory; Verville, author of the Moyen de parvenir, and others 
equally well known, among whom we will specially men- 
tion the Sieur Descartes, because he was a melancholy 
genius, and devoted himself more to brown studies than 
to drinks and dainties, a man of whom all the cooks and 
confectioners of Tours have a wise horror, whom they 
despise, and will not hear spoken of, and say, " Where 
does he live ? ,? if his name is mentioned. Now this work 
is the production of the joyous leisure of the good old 
monks, of whom there are many vestiges scattered about 
the country, at Grenadiere-les-Saint-Cyr, in the village oi 
Sacch6-les-Azay-le-Rideau, at Marmoutiers, Veretz, 
Roche-Corbon, and in certain storehouses of good stories, 


which storehouses are the upper stories of old canons 
and wise dames, who remember the good old days when 
you could enjoy a hearty laugh without looking to see if 
your hilarity disturbed the sit of your ruffle, as do the 
young women of the present day, who wish to take their 
pleasure gravely— a custom which suits our gay France 
as much as a water-jug would the head of a queen. Since 
laughter is a privilege granted to man alone, and he has 
sufficient causes for tears within his reach, without add- 
ing to them by books, I have considered it a thing most 
patriotic to publish a drachm of merriment for these 
times, when weariness falls like a fine rain, wetting us, 
soaking into us, and dissolving those ancient customs 
which made the people to reap public amusement from the 
Republic. But of those old pantagruelists who allowed 
God and the king to conduct their own affairs without put- 
ting of their finger in the pie oftener than they could help, 
being content to look on and laugh, there are very few 
left. They are dying out day by day in such manner that 
I fear greatly to see these illustrious fragments of the 
ancient breviary spat upon, staled upon, set at naught, 
dishonored, and blamed, the which I should be loth to 
see, since I have and bear great respect for the refuse of 
our Gallic antiquities. 

Bear in mind also, ye wild critics, ye scrapers- up of 
words, harpies who mangle the intentions and inventions 
of every one, that as children only do we laugh, and as 
we travel onward laughter sinks down and dies out, like 
the light of the oil-lit lamp. This signifies, that to laugh 
you must be innocent and pure of heart, lacking which 
qualities you purse your lips, drop your jaws, and knit 
your brow, after the manner of men hiding vices and im- 
purities. Take then, this work as you would a group 
or statue, certain features of which an artist cannot omit, 


and he would be the biggest of big fools if he put leaves 
upon them, seeing that these said works are not, any 
more than is this book, intended for nunneries. Never- 
theless, I have taken care, much to my vexation, to weed 
from the manuscripts the old words, which, in spite of 
their age, were still strong, and which would have shock- 
ed the ears, astonished the eyes, reddened the cheeks, 
and sullied the lips of trousered maidens and Madame 
Virtue with three lovers j for certain things must be done 
to suit the vices of the age, and a periphrase is much 
more agreeable than the word. Indeed, we are old, and 
find long trifles better than the short follies of our youth, 
because at that time our taste was better. Then spare 
me your slanders, and read this rather at night than in 
the daytime. I will now rid you of myself. But I fear 
nothing for this book, since it is extracted from a high 
and splendid source, from which all that has issued has 
had a great success, as is amply proved by the royal 
orders of the Golden Fleece, of the Holy Ghost, of the 
Garter, of the Bath, and by many notable things which 
have been taken therefrom, under shelter of which I 
place myself. 

Now make ye merry ', my hearties, and gaily read with ease 
of body and rest of reins, and may a cancer carry you off if 
you disown me after having read 7ne. These words are 
those of our good Master Rabelais, before whom we must 
all stand, hat in hand, in token of reverence and honor 
to him, prince of all wisdom, and king of comedy. 




The Fair Imperia. 

The Venial Sin. 

The King's Sweetheart. 

The Devil's Heir. 

The Merrie Jests of King Louis the Eleventh. 

The High Constable's Wife. 

The Maid of Thilouse 

The Brother-in-Arms. 

The Vicar of Azay-le-Rideau. 

The Reproach. 




The Archbishop of Bordeaux had added to his suite 
when going to the Council at Constance quite a good- 
looking little priest of Touraine, whose ways and manner 
of speech were so charming that he passed for a son of 
La Soldee and the Governor. The Archbishop of Tours 
had willingly given him to his confrere for his journey to 
that town, because it was usual for archbishops to make 
each other presents, they well knowing how sharp are 
the. itchings of theological palms. Thus this young 
priest came to the Council and was lodged in the estab- 
lishment of his prelate, a man of good morals and great 

Philippe de Mala, as he was called, resolved to behave 
well and worthily to serve his protector, but he saw in 
this mysterious Council many men leading a dissolute 
life and yet not making less, nay — gaining more indul- 
gences, gold crowns and benefices than all the other vir- 
tuous and well-behaved ones. Now during one night — 
dangerous to his virtue— the devil whispered into his ear 
that he should live more luxuriously, since every one 
sucked the breasts of our Holy Mother Church and yet 


they were not drained, a miracle which proved beyond 
doubt the existence of God. And the little priest of 
Touraine did not disappoint the devil. He promised to 
feast himself, to eat his bellyful of roast meats and other 
German delicacies, when he could do so without paying 
for them, as he was poor. As he remained quite inno- 
cent (in which he followed the example of the poor 
old archbishop, who passed for a saint, because he 
no longer courted the ladies), he had to suffer from 
fits of melancholy, since there were so many 
sweet damsels, warm hearted, but cold to the 
poor people, who inhabited Constance, to enlighten 
the understanding of the Fathers of the Council. He 
was savage that he did not know how to make up to 
these gallant sirens, who snubbed cardinals, abbots, 
councilors, legates, bishops, princes and margraves just as 
if they had been penniless clerks. And in the evening, 
after prayers, he would practice speaking to them, teach- 
ing himself the breviary of love. He taught himself to 
answer all possible questions, but on the morrow if by 
chance he met one of the aforesaid princesses dressed 
out, seated in a litter and escorted by her proud and well- 
armed pages, he remained open mouthed, like a dog in 
the act of catching flies, at the sight of the sweet coun- 
tenance that so much inflamed him. The secretary of 
monseigneur, a gentleman of Perigord, having clearly 
explained to him that the fathers, procureurs, and 
auditors of the Rota bought by certain presents, not 
relics or indulgences, but jewels and gold, the favor of 
being familiar with the best of these lovely ladies who 
lived under the protection of the lords of the Council, 
the poor Touranian, all simpleton and innocent as he 
was, treasured up under his mattress the money given 
him by the good archbishop for writings and copying— 


hoping one day to have enough just to see a cardinal's 
lady-love, and trusting in God for the rest. He was 
hairless from top to toe and resembled a man about as 
much as a goat with a night-dress on resembles a young 
lady, but prompted by his unrest he wandered in the 
evenings through the streets of Constance, careless of 
his life, and, at the risk of having his body halberded by 
the soldiers, he peeped at the cardinals entering the 
houses of their sweethearts. Then he saw the wax 
candles lighted in the houses and suddenly the doors and 
the windows closed. Then he heard the blessed abbots or 
others jumping about, drinking, enjoying themselves, 
love-making, singing Alleluia and applauding the music 
with which they were being regaled. The kitchen per- 
formed miracles, the offices said were fine rich pots-full, 
the matins sweet little hams, the vespers luscious 
mouthfuls, and the laudes delicate sweetmeats, and 
after their little carouses, these brave priests were silent, 
their pages diced upon the stairs, their mules stamped 
restively in the streets; everything went well — but faith 
and religion were there. That is how it came to pass 
the good man Huss was burned. And the reason? He 
put his finger in the pie without being asked. Then why 
was he a Huguenot before the others ? 

To return, however, to our sweet little Philippe, not 
unfrequently did he receive many a thump and hard 
blow, but the devil sustained him, inciting him to believe 
that sooner or later it would come to his turn to act as a 
cardinal to some lovely dame. This ardent desire gave 
him the boldness of a stag in autumn, so much so that 
one evening he quietly tripped up the steps and into one 
of the first houses in Constance, where often he had seen 
officers, seneschals, valets and pages waiting with torches 
for their masters, dukes, kings, cardinals and archbishops. 


" Ah! " said he, "she must be very beautiful and ami- 
able, this one." 

A soldier well armed allowed him to pass, believing 
him to belong to the suite of the Elector of Bavaria, who 
had just left, and that he was going to deliver a message 
on behalf of the above mentioned nobleman. Philippe 
de Mala mounted the stairs as lightly as a greyhound in 
love, and was guided by a delectable odor of perfume to 
a certain chamber, where, surrounded by her handmaid- 
ens, the lady of the house was divesting herself of her 
attire. He stood quite dumbfounded, like a thief sur- 
prised by sergeants. The lady was without petticoat or 
head-dress. The chambermaids and the servants, busy 
taking off her tiny shoes, so quickly and dexterously had 
her enveloped in a wrapper that the priest, over- 
come, gave vent to a long "Ahf" which had a flavor of 
love about it. 

"What want you, little one?" said the lady to him. 

"To yield my soul to you," said he, flashing his eyes 
upon her. 

"You can come again to-morrow," said she, in order 
to be rid of him. 

To which Philippe replied blushing, " I will not fail." 

Then she burst out laughing. Philippe, struck mo- 
tionless, stood quite at his ease, letting wander over her 
his eyes that glowed and sparkled with the flame of love. 
What lovely thick hair hung ovet her ivory white back, 
showing* sweet white places, fair and shining, between 
the many tresses! She had upon her snow white brow a 
ruby circlet, less fertile in rays of fire than her black eyes, 
still moist with tears from her hearty laugh. She even 
threw her slipper at a statue gilded like a shrine, twist- 
ing herself about from very ribaldry, and allowed her 
bare foot, smaller than a swan's bill, to be seen. This 


evening she was in a good humor, otherwise she would 
have had the little shaven-crown put out by the window 
without more ado than her first bishop. 

"He has fine eyes, madame," said one of the hand- 

"Where does he come from?" asked another. 

"Poor child!" cried madame, "his mother must be 
looking for him. Show him his way home," 

The Tourainian, still sensible, gave a movement of de- 
light at the sight of the brocaded bed where the sweet 
form was about to repose. This glance, full of knowing 
intelligence, awoke the lady's fantasy, who, half laughing 
and half smitten, repeated "To-morrow," and dismissed 
him with a gesture which the pope Jehan himself would 
have obeyed, especially as he was like a snail without a 
shell, since the Council had just deprived him of the holy 

"Ah! madame, there is another vow of chastity 
changed into an amorous desire," said one of her women; 
and the chuckles commenced again thick as hail. 

Philippe went his way, bumping his head against the 
wall like a hooded rook as he was, so giddy had he be- 
come at the sight of this creature, even more enticing 
than a siren rising from the water. He noticed the ani- 
mals carved over the door, and returned to the house of 
the archbishop with his head full of diabolical longings 
and his entrails sophisticated. Once in his little room 
he counted his coins all night long, but could make no 
more than four of them; and as that was all his treasure, 
he counted upon winning the fair one by giving her all 
he had in the world. 

"What is it ails you?" said the good archbishop, un- 
easy at the groans and "oh! oh's! " of his clerk. 

" Ah! my lord," answered the poor priest, "I am won- 


dering how it Is that so light and sweet a woman can 
weigh so heavily upon my heart." 

"Which one?" said the archbishop, putting down his 
breviary which he was reading for others — the good 

"Oh ! Mother of God ! you will scold me, I know, 
my good master, my protector, because I have seen 
the lady of a cardinal at the least, and I am weeping 
because I lack more than one little crown to enable me 
to convert her." 

The archbishop, knitting the circumflex accent that 
he had above his nose, said not a word. Then the very 
humble priest trembled in his skin to have confessed so 
much to his superior. But the holy man directly said 
to him, "She must be very dear then — " 

"Ah!" said he, "she has swallowed many a mitre 
and stolen many a cross. " 

"Well, Philippe, if thou wilt renounce her, I will 
present thee with thirty angels from the poor-box. " 

"Ah! my lord, I should be losing too much," replied 
the lad, emboldened by the treat he promised himself. 

"Ah! Philippe," said the good prelate, "thou wilt 
then go to the devil and displease God, like all our 
cardinals, " and the master, with sorrow, began to pray 
St. Gatien, the patron saint of Innocents, to save his 
servant. He made him kneel down beside him, telling 
him to recommend himself also to St. Philippe, but the 
wretched priest implored the saint beneath his breath 
to prevent him from failing if on the morrow the lady 
should receive him kindly and mercifully ; and the good 
archbishop, observing the fervor of his servant, cried 
out to him, "Courage, little one; and Heaven will 
exorcise thee. " 

On the morrow, while monsieur was declaiming at 


the Council against the shameless behavior of the 
apostles of Christianity, Philippe de Mala spent his 
angels — acquired with so much labor — in perfumes, 
baths, fomentations, and other fooleries. He played the 
fop so well, one would have thought him the fancy cava- 
lier of a gay lady. He wandered about the town in order 
to find the residence of his heart's queen ; and when he 
asked the passers-by to whom belonged the aforesaid 
house, they laughed in his face, saying — 

"Whence comes this precious fellow that has not 
heard of La Belle Imperia?" 

He was very much afraid that he and his angels were 
gone to the devil when he heard the name, and knew 
into what a nice mess he had voluntarily fallen. 

Imperia was the most precious, the most fantastic 
girl in the world, although she passed for the most 
dazzlingly beautiful, and the one who best understood 
the art of bamboozling cardinals and softening the 
hardest soldiers and oppressors of the people. She had 
brave captains, archers, and nobles, ready to serve her 
at every turn. ' She had only to breathe a word, and 
the business of any one who had offended her was set- 
tled. A free fight only brought a smile to her lips, and 
often the Sire de Baudricourt — one of the King's Cap- 
tains — woud ask her if there was any one he could kill 
for her that day — a little joke at the expense of the 
abbots. With the exception of the potentates among 
the high clergy, with whom Madame Imperia managed 
to accommodate her little tempers, she ruled everyone 
with a high hand in virtue of her pretty babble and 
enchanting ways, which enthralled the most virtuous 
and the most unimpressionable. Thus she lived beloved 
and respected, quite as much as the real ladies and 
princesses, and was called madame, concerning which 

Droll Stories— 2 


the good Emperor Sigismund replied to a lady who 
complained of it to him, "That they, the good ladies, 
might keep to their own proper way and holy virtues, 
and Madame Imperia to the sweet naughtiness of the 
goddess Venus" — Christian words which shocked the 
good ladies, to their credit be it said. 

Philippe, then thinking over in his mind that which 
on the preceding evening he had seen with his eyes, 
doubted if more did not remain behind. Then was he 
sad, and without taking bite or sup, strolled about the 
town waiting the appointed hour, although he was 
well-favored and gallant enough to find others less diffi- 
cult to overcome than was Madame Imperia. 

The night came ; the little Tourainian, exalted with 
pride, caparisoned with desire, and spurred by his 
"alacks" and "alases, " which nearly choked him, glided 
like an eel into the domicile of the veritable Queen of 
the Council — for before her bowed "humbly all the 
authority, science, and wisdom of Christianity. The 
major domo did not know him, and was going to bundle 
him out again, when one of the chamber women called 
out from the top of the stairs — "Eh, M. Imbert, it is 
madame's young fellow," and poor Philippe, blushing 
like a wedding night, ran up the stairs, shaking with 
happiness and delight. The servant took him by the 
hand and led him into the chamber where sat madame, 
lightly attired, like a brave woman who awaits her 

The dazzling Imperia was seated near a table covered 
with a shaggy cloth ornamented with gold, and with 
all the requisites for a dainty carouse. Flagons of wine, 
various drinking glasses, bottles of hippocras, flasks full 
of the good wine of Cyprus, pretty boxes full of 
spices, roast peacocks, green sauces, little salt hams 


— all that would gladden the eyes of the gallant if he 
had not so madly loved Madame Imperia. She saw 
well that the eyes of the young priest were all for her. 
Although accustomed to the curl-paper devotion of the 
churchmen, she was well satisfied that she had made 
a conquest of the young priest who all day long had 
been in her head. 

The windows had been closed; madame was decked 
out and in a manner fit to do the honors to a prince of the 
Empire. Then the rogue, beautified by the holy beauty 
of Imperia, knew that emperor, burgraf, nay, even a 
cardinal about to be elected pope, would willingly for 
that night have changed places with him, a little priest 
who, beneath his gown, had only the devil and love. 

He put on a lordly air, and saluted her with a 
courtesy by no means ungraceful ; and then the sweet 
lady said to him, regaling him with a piercing glance: 
"Come and sit close to me, that I may see if you 
have altered since yesterday. " 
"Oh, yes," said he. 
"And how?" said she. 

"Yesterday," replied the artful fellow, "I loved you; 
to-day, we love each other, and from a poor sinner I 
have become richer than a king." 

"Oh, little one, little one!" cried she merrily; "yes, 
you are indeed changed, for from a young priest I see 
well you have turned into an old devil. " And side by 
side they sat down before a large fire, which helped to 
spread their ecstacy around. They remained always 
ready to begin eating, seeing that they only thought of 
gazing into each others' eyes, and never touched a dish. 
Just as they were beginning to feel comfortable and at 
their ease, there came a great noise at madame's door, 
as if people were beating against it, and crying out. 


"Madame," cried the little servant hastily, "here's 
another of them. " 

"Who is it?" cried she in a haughty manner, like a 
tyrant, savage at being interrupted. 

"The Bishop of Coire wishes to speak with you." 

"May the devil take him!" said she, looking at 
Philippe gently. 

"Madame, he has seen the lights through the chinks, 
and is making a great noise." 

"Tell him I have the fever, and you will be telling 
him no lie, for I am ill of this little priest who is 
torturing my brain.'' 

But just as she had finished speaking, and was press- 
ing with devotion the hand of Philippe, who trembled 
in his skin, appeared the fat Bishop of Coire indig- 
nant and angry. The officers followed him, bearing a 
trout canonically dressed, fresh drawn from the Rhine, 
and shining in a golden platter, and spices contained 
in little ornamented boxes, and a thousand little dain- 
ties, such as liquers and jams, made by the holy nuns 
at his abbey. 

"Ah, ah," said he with his deep voice, "I haven't 
time to go to the devil, but you must give me a touch 
of him in advance, eh? my little one." 

'Your belly will one day make a nice sheath for a 
sword, " replied she, knitting her brows above her eyes, 
which from being soft and gentle had become mischie- 
vous enough to make one tremble. 

"And this little chorus singer is here to offer that?" 
said the bishop insolently, turning his great rubicund 
face towards Philippe. 

"Monseigneur, I am here to confess madame. " 

"Oh, oh, do you not know the canons? To confess 
the ladies at this time of night is a right reserved to 


bishops, so take yourself off ; go and herd with simple 
monks, and never come back here again under pain of 
excommunication. " 

"Do not move," cried the blushing Imperia, more 
lovely with passion than she was with love, because 
now she was possessed both with passion and love. 
"Stop, my friend. Here you are in your own house." 
Then he knew that he was really loved by her. 

"Is it not in the breviary, and an evangelical regula- 
tion, that you shall be equal before God in the valley 
z>i Jehoshaphat?" asked she of the bishop. 

"'Tis, an invention of the devil, who has adulterated 
the holy book, " replied the great numbskull of a bishop, 
in a hurry to fall to. 

"Well, then, be equal now before me, who am here 
below your goddess, " replied Imperia, "otherwise one 
of these days I will have you delicately strangled bet- 
ween the head and shoulders ; I swear it by the power 
of my tonsure, which is as good as the pope's." And 
wishing that the trout should be added to the feast as 
well as the sweets and other dainties, she added cun- 
ningly, "Sit you down and drink with us." But the 
artful minx, being up to a trick or two, gave the little 
one a wink which told him plainly not to mind the 
German, whom she would soon find means to be rid of. 

The servant-maid seated the bishop at the table and 
tucked him up, while Philippe, wild with a rage that 
closed his mouth because he saw his plans ending in 
smoke, gave the archbishop to more devils than there 
ever were monks alive. Thus they got half way through 
the repast, which the young priest had not yet touched, 
hungering only for Imperia, near whom he was already 
seated, but speaking that sweet language which the 
ladies so well understand, that has neither stops, com- 


mas, accents, letters, figures, characters, notes, nor 
images. The fat bishop, sensual and careful enough of 
the sleek ecclesiastical garment of skin for which he 
was indebted to his late mother, allowed himself to be 
plentifully served with hippocras by the delicate hand 
of madame, and it was just at his first hiccough that 
the sound of an approaching cavalcade was heard in the 
street. The number of horses, the "Ho, ho, 1" of the 
pages, showed plainly that some great prince of noble 
ways was about to arrive. In fact, a moment afterwards 
the Cardinal of Ragusa, against whom the servants of 
Imperia had not dared to bar the door, entered the room. 
At this terrible sight the poor courtesan and her young 
lover became ashamed and embarrassed, like fresh 
cured lepers ; for it would be tempting the devil to 
try and oust the cardinal, the more so as at that time 
it was not known who would be pope, three aspirants 
having resigned their hoods for the benefit of Christi- 
anity. The cardinal, who was a cunning Italian, long- 
bearded, a great sophist, and the life and soul of the 
Council, guessed, by the feeblest exercise of *the facul- 
ties of his understanding, the alpha and omega of the 
adventure. He only had to weigh in his mind one little 
thought before he knew how to proceed in order to be 
able to hypothecate his manly vigor. He arrived with 
the appetite of a hungry monk, and to obtain its satis- 
faction he was just the man to stab two monks and sell 
his bit of the true cross, which was wrong. 

"Holloa! friend," said he to Philippe, calling him 
towards him. 

The poor Tourainian, more dead than alive,' and 
expecting the devil was about to interfere seriously 
with his arrangements, rose and said, "What is it?" 
to the redoubtable cardinal. 


He, taking him by the arm, led him to the staircase, 
looked him in the white of the eye, and said without 
any nonsense : 

" Ventredieu ! you are a nice little fellow, and I should 
not like to have to let your master know the weight of 
your carcass. My revenge might cause me certain 
pious expenses in my old age, so choose to espouse an 
abbey for the remainder of your days, or to marry 
madame to-night and die to-morrow. " 

The poor little Tourainian in despair murmured, "May 
I come back when your passion is over?" 

The cardinal could scarcely keep his countenance, 
but he said sternly, "Choose the gallows or a mitre." 

"Ah !" said the priest maliciously; "a good fat abbey." 

Thereupon the cardinal went back into the room, 
opened an escritoire, and scribbled upon a piece of 
parchment an order to the envoy of France. 

"Monseigneur, " said the Tourainian to him while he 
was spelling out the order, "you will not get rid of the 
Bishop of Coire so easily as you have got rid of me, 
for he has as many abbeys as the soldiers have drink- 
ing shops in the town ; besides he is in the favor of 
his lord. Now I fancy, to show you my gratitude for 
this so fine abbey, I owe you a good piece of advice. 
You know how fatal has been and how rapidly spread this 
terrible pestilence which has cruelly harassed Paris. Tell 
him that you have just left the bedside of your old 
friend, the Archbishop of Bordeaux ; thus you will 
make him scutter away like straw before a whirlwind." 

"Oh, oh," cried the cardinal, "thou meritest more 
than an abbey. Ah, Ventredieu ! my young friend, 
here are one hundred golden crowns for thy journey to 
the abbey of Turpenay, which I won yesterday at cards, 
and of which I make you a free gift." 


Hearing these words, and seeing Philippe de Mala 
disappear without giving her the amorous glances she 
expected, the beautiful Imperia, puffing like a dolphin, 
denounced all the cowardice of the priest. She ^vas 
not then a sufficiently good Catholic to pardon her lover 
deceiving her, by not knowing how to die for her 
pleasure. Thus the death of Philippe was foreshadowed 
in the viper's glance she cast at him to insult him, 
which glance pleased the cardinal much, for the wily 
Italian saw he would soon get his abbey back again. 
The Tourainian, heeding not the brewing storm, 
avoided by walking out silently and with his ears 
down, like a wet dog being kicked out of church. 
Madame drew a sigh from her heart. She must have 
had her own ideas of humanity for the little value she 
held it in. The fire which posssesed her had mounted 
to her head, and scintillated in rays about her, and there 
was good reason for it, for this was the first time that 
she had been humbugged by a priest. Then the cardi- 
nal smiled, believing it was all to his advantage ; was 
he not a cunning fellow? Yes, he was the possessor of 
a red hat. "Ah! ah! my friend," said he to the 
bishop, "I congratulate myself on being in your com- 
pany, and I am glad to have been able to get rid of 
that little wretch unworthy of madame, the more so 
if you had gone near him, my lovely and amiable 
creature, you would have perished miserably, through 
the deed of a simple priest. " 

"Ah! How?" 

"He is the secretary of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. 
The good man was seized this morning with the pesti- 
lence. " 

The bishop opened his mouth wide enough to swallow 
a Dutch cheese. 


"How do you know that?" asked he. 

"Ah!" said the cardinal, taking the good German's 
hand, "I have just administered to him, and consoled 
him ; at this moment the holy man has a fair wind to 
waft him to paradise." 

The Bishop of Coire demonstrated immediately how 
light fat men are; for when men are big-bellied, a 
merciful Providence, in the consideration of their works, 
often makes their internal tubes as elastic as balloons. 

The aforesaid bishop sprang backwards with one 
bound, burst, into a perspiration, and coughed like a 
cow who finds feathers mixed with her hay. Then 
becoming suddenly pale, he rushed down the stairs 
without even bidding madame adieu. When the door 
had closed upon the bishop, and he was fairly in the 
street, the Cardinal of Ragusa began laughing fit to 
split his sides. 

"Ah, my fair one, am I not worthy to be pope, and 
better than that, thy lover this evening?" 

But seeing Imperia thoughtful, he approached her to 
take her in his arms, and pet her after the usual fashion 
of cardinals, men who embrace better than all others, 
even the soldiers, because they are lazy, and do not 
spare their essential properties. 

"Ha!" said she, drawing back, "you wish to cause 
my death, you ecclesiastical idiot. The principal thing 
for you is to enjoy yourself; my secret carcass, a thing 
accessory. Your pleasure will be my death, and then 
you'll canonize me, perhaps? Ah, you have the plague 
and you would give it to me. Go somewhere else, you 
brainless priest. Ah ! touch me not, " said she, seeing 
him about to advance, "or I will stab you with this 
dagger. " 

And the clever hussy drew from her armoir a little 

26 Droll stories 

dagger, which she knew how to use with great skill 
when necessary. 

"But, my little paradise, my sweet one," said the 
other laughing, "don't you see the trick? Wasn't it 
necessary to get rid of that old bullock of Coire?" 

"Well then, if you love me, show it," replied she. 
"I desire that you leave me instantly. If you are 
touched with the disease, my death will not worry you. 
I know you well enough to know at what price you will 
put a moment of pleasure at your last hour. You would 
drown the earth. Ah ! ah ! you have boasted of it 
when drunk. I love only myself, my treasures, and my 
health. Go, and if to-morrow your veins are not frozen 
by the disease, you can come again. To-day, I hate 
you, my good cardinal," said she smiling. 

"Imperial" cried the cardinal, on his knees, "my 
blessed Imperia, do not play with me thus. " 

"No," said she, "I never play with blessed and 
sacred things." 

"Ah ! ribald woman, I will excommunicate thee 
to-morrow. " 

"And now you are out of your cardinal sense." 

"Imperia, cursed daughter of Satan ! Oh, my little 
beauty — my love—" 

" Respect yourself more. Don't kneel to me, fie for 
shame ! " 

"Wilt thou have a dispensation ni articulo mottis? 
Wilt thou have my fortune — or better still, a bit of the 
veritable true cross? — wilt thou?" 

"This evening, all the wealth of heaven above and 
earth beneath would not buy my heart," said she laugh- 
ing. "I should be the blackest of sinners, unworthy to 
receive the Blessed Sacrament if I had not my little 
caprices. " 


"Pll burn the house down. Sorceress, you have be- 
witched me. You shall perish at the stake. Listen to 
me, my love — my gentle dove — I promise you the best 
place in heaven. Eh? No. Death to you then — death 
to the sorceress." 

"Oh! oh! I will kill you, monseigneur. " 

And the cardinal foamed with rage. 

"You are making a fool of yourself," said she. "Go 
away; you'll tire yourself." 

"I shall be pope, and you shall pay for this!" 

"Then you are no longer disposed to obey me?" 

"What can I do this evening to please you?" 

"Get out." 

And she sprang lightly like a wagtail into her room, 
and locked herself in, leaving the cardinal to storm 
that he was obliged to go. When the fair Imperia 
found herself alone, seated before the fire, and without 
her little priest, she exclaimed, snapping angrily the 
gold links of her chain, "By the double triple horn of 
the devil, if the little one has made me have this row 
with the cardinal, and exposed me to the danger of being 
poisoned to-morrow, unless I pay him over to my 
heart's content, I will not die till I have seen him 
burnt alive before my eyes. Ah ! " said she, weeping 
this time with real tears, "I lead a most unhappy life, 
and the little pleasure I have costs me the life of a 
dog, let alone my salvation. " 

As she finished this jeremiad, wailing like a calf that 
is about being slaughtered, she beheld the blushing 
face of the young priest, who had hidden himself, peep- 
ing at her from behind her large Venetian mirror. 

"Ah!" said she, "thou art the most perfect monk that 
ever dwelt in this blessed and amorous town of Constance. 
Ah ! ah ! come, my gentle cavalier, my dear boy, my little 



charm, my paradise of delectation, let me drink thine 
eyes, eat thee, kill thee with love. Oh ! my ever-flour- 
ishing, ever green, sempiternal god; from a little monk 
I would make thee a king, emperor, pope, and happier 
than either. There, thou canst put anything to fire 
and sword, I am thine and thou shalt see it well ; for 
thou shalt be all a cardinal, even when to redden thy 
hood I shed all my heart's blood." And with her 
trembling hands all joyously she filled with Greek wine 
the golden cup, brought by the Bishop of Coire, and 
presented it to her sweetheart, whom she served upon 
her knee, she whose slipper princes found more to their 
taste than that of the pope. 

But he gazed at her in silence, with his eyes so 
lustrous with love, that she said to him, trembling with 
joy, "Ah, be quiet, little one. Let us have supper. " 















Messire Bruyn, he who completed the Castle of Roche- 
Corbon-les-Vouvray, on the banks of the Loire, was a 
boisterous fellow in his youth. When quite little, he 
squeezed the young maidens, turned the house out of 
windows, and played the devil with everything, when he 
was called upon to put his sire the Baron of Roche-Cor- 
bon some few feet under the turf. Then he was his own 
master, free to lead a life of wild dissipation, and in- 
deed he worked very hard to get a surfeit of enjoyment. 
Now by making his crowns sweat and his goods scarce, 
draining his land, and bleeding his hogsheads, and regal- 
ing frail beauties, he found himself excommunicated 
from decent society, and had for his friends only the 
plunderers of towns and the Lombardians. But the 
usurers turned rough and bitter as chestnut husks, when 
he had no other security to give them than his said estate 
of Roche- Corbon, since the Rufies Car bonis was held 
from our lord the king. Then Bruyn found himself just 
in the humor to give a blow here and there, to break a 
collar-bone or two, and quarrel with everyone about tri- 
fles. Seeing which the Abbot of Marmoustiers, his neigh- 


bor, and a man liberal with his advice, told him that it 
was an evident sign of lordly perfection, that he was 
walking in the right road, but if he would go and slaugh- 
ter, to the great glory of God, the Mohammedans who 
defiled the Holy Land, it would be better still, and that 
he would undoubtedly return full of wealth and indulgen- 
ces into Touraine, or into Paradise, whence all barons 
formerly came. 

The said Bruyn, admiring the great sense of the pre- 
late left the country equipped by the monastery, and 
blessed by the abbot, to the great delight of his friends 
and neighbors. Then he put. to the sack many towns of 
Asia and Africa, and fell upon the infidels without giv- 
ing them warning, burning the Saracens, the Greeks, the 
English and others, caring little whether they were 
friends or enemies, or where they came from, since 
among his merits he had that of being in no way curious, 
and he never questioned them until after he had killed 
them. At this business, agreeable to God, to the king, 
and to himself, Bruyn gained renown as a good christian 
and loyal knight, and enjoyed himself thoroughly in these 
lands beyond the seas, since he more willingly gave a 
crown to the girls than to the poor, although he met 
more poor people than perfect maids; but like a good 
Tourainian he made soup of anything. At length, when 
he was satiated with Turks, relics, and other blessings 
of the Holy Land, Bruyn, to the great astonishment of 
the people of Vouvrillons, returned from the Crusades 
laden with crowns and precious stones; rather differently 
from some who, rich when they set out, came back heavy 
with leprosy, but light with gold. On his return 
from Tunis, our lord, King Philippe, made him a 
count, and appointed him his seneschal in our country 
and in that of Poictou. There he was greatly beloved 


and properly thought well of since over and above his 
good qualities he founded the Church of the Carmes- 
Deschaulx, in the parish of Egrignolles, as a peace-offer- 
ing to Heaven for the follies of his youth. Thus was he 
cardinally cosigned to the good graces of the church and 
of God. From a wicked youth and reckless man, he be- 
came a good, wise man, and discreetly bald from losing 
his hair; rarely was in anger, unless some one blasphem- 
ed God before him, the which he would not tolerate be- 
cause he had blasphemed enough for every one in his 
wild youth. In short, he never quarreled, because being 
seneschal, people gave up to him instantly. It is true 
that he at that time beheld all his desires accomplished, 
the which would render even an imp of Satan calm and 
tranquil from his horns to his heels. And besides this 
he possessed a castle all jagged at the corners, and 
shaped and pointed like a Spanish doublet, situated upon 
a bank from which it was reflected in the Loire. In the 
rooms were royal tapestries, furniture, Saracen pomps, 
vanities, and inventions which were much admired by 
the people of Tours, and even by the archbishop and 
clerks of St. Martin, to whom he sent as a free gift a 
banner fringed with fine gold. In the neighborhood of 
the said castle abounded fair domains, windmills, and 
forests, yielding a harvest of rents of all kinds, so that 
he was one of the strongest knights-banneret of the 
province, and could easily have led to battle for our lord 
the king, a thousand men. In his old days, if by chance 
his bailiff, a diligent man at hanging, brought before 
him a poor peasant suspected of some offence, he would 
say smiling: 

"Let this one go, Breddiff; he will count against 
those I inconsiderately slaughtered across the seas;" 
ofttimes, however, he would let them bravely hang on a 


chestnut tree, or swing on his gallows, but this was 
solely that justice might be done, and that the custom 
should not lapse in his domain. Thus the people on his 
lands were good and orderly, like fresh veiled nuns, and 
peaceful, since he protected them from robbers and vag- 
abonds, whom he never spared, knowing by experience 
how much mischief is caused by these cursed beasts of 
prey. For the rest, most devout, finishing everything 
quickly, his prayers as well as good wine, he managed 
the processes after the Turkish fashion, having a thous- 
and little jokes ready for the losers, and dining with them 
to console them. He had all the people who had been 
hanged, buried in consecrated ground like godly ones, 
some people thinking they had been sufficiently punished 
by having their breath stopped. He only persecuted 
the Jews now and then, and when they were glutted 
with usury and wealth. He let them gather their spoil 
as the bees do honey, saying that they were the best of 
tax-gatherers. And never did he despoil them save for 
the profit and use of the churchmen, the king, the prov- 
ince, or himself. 

This jovial way gained for him the affection and es- 
teem of every one, great and small. If he came back 
smiling from his judicial throne, the Abbot of Marmous- 
tiers, an old man like himself, would say, " Ha ! ha ! 
Messire, there is some hanging on since you laugh thus!" 
And when coming from Roche-Corbon to Tours he pass- 
ed on horseback along the Faubourg St. Symphorien, 
the little girls would say, " Ah, this is the justice day, 
here is the good man Bruyn," and without being afraid, 
they would look at him astride on a big white hack, that 
he had brought back with him from the Levant. On 
the bridge the little boys would stop playing with the 
ball, and would call out, "Good day, Mr. Seneschal," 


and he would reply jokingly, " Enjoy yourselves, my 
children, until you get whipped." " Yes, Mr. Seneschal." 

Also he made the country so contented and so free from 
robbers that during the year of the great overflowing of 
the Loire there were only twenty-two malefactors hanged 
that winter, not counting a Jew burned in the Commune 
of Chateau-Neuf for having stolen a consecrated wafer, 
or bought it, some said, for he was very rich. 

One day in the following year, about harvest time, or 
mowing time, as we say in Touraine, there came Egyp- 
tians, Bohemians and other wandering troupes, who stole 
the holy things from the Church of St. Martin, and, in the 
place and exact situation of Madame the Virgin, left, by 
way of insult and mockery to our Holy Faith, an aban- 
doned pretty little girl, about the age of an old dog, stark 
naked, an acrobat, and of Moorish descent like them- 
selves. For this almost nameless crime it was equally 
decided by the king, people, and the churchmen that the 
Mooress, to pay for all, should be burned and cooked 
alive in the square near the fountain, where the herb 
market is. Then the good man Bruyn clearly and dex- 
terously demonstrated to the others that it would be a 
thing most profitable and pleasant to God to gain over 
this African soul to the true religion, and if the devil 
were lodged in this feminine body the fagots would be 
usless to burn him, as said the said order. The which 
the archbishop sagely thought most canonical and con- 
formable to christian charity and the gospel. The ladies 
of the town and other persons of authority said loudly 
that they were cheated of a fine ceremony, since the 
Mooress was crying her eyes out in the gaol and would 
certainly be converted to God in order to live as long as 
a crow, if she were allowed to do so, to which the senes- 
chal replied that if the foreigner would holily commit 

Droll Stories— 3 


herself to the christian religion there would be a gallant 
ceremony of another kind, and that he would undertake 
that it should be royally magnificent, because he would 
be her sponsor at the baptismal font, and that a virgin 
should be his partner in the affair, in order the better to 
please the Almighty, while himself was reputed never to 
have lost the bloom of innocence, in fact to be a coquebin. 
In our country of Touraine thus are called the young vir- 
gin men, unmarried or so esteemed, to distinguish them 
from the husbands and the widowers, but the girls always 
pick them out without the name, because they are more 
light-hearted and merry than those seasoned in marriage. 

The young Mooress did not hesitate between the flam- 
ing fagots and the baptismal water. She much preferred 
to be a christian and live than be an Egyptian and be 
burnt; thus, to escape a moment's baking, her heart 
would burn unquenched through all her life, since for the 
greater surety of her religion she was placed in the con- 
vent of nuns near Chardonneret, where she took the vow 
of sanctity. The said ceremony was concluded at the 
residence of the archbishop, where upon this occasion, in 
honor of the Savior of men, the lords and ladies of Tou- 
raine hopped, skipped, and danced, for in this country 
the people dance, skip, eat, flirt, have more feasts and 
make merrier than any in the whole world. The good 
old seneschal had taken for his associate the daughter of 
the Lord of Azay-le- Ridel, which afterwards became 
Azay-le-Brusle', the which lord being a Crusader was left 
before Acre, a far-distant town, in the hands of a Saracen, 
who demanded a royal ransom for him because the said 
lord was of high position. 

The Lady of Azay having given his estate as security 
to the Lombards and extortioners in order to raise the 
sum, remained without a penny in the world awaiting 


her lord in a poor lodging in the town, without a 
carpet to sit upon, but as proud as the Queen of Sheba 
and brave as a mastiff who defends the property of his 
master. Seeing this great distress, the seneschal went 
delicately to request this lady's daughter to be the god- 
mother of the said Egyptian, in order that he might have 
the right of assisting the Lady of Azay. And, in fact, he 
kept a heavy chain of gold which he had preserved since 
the commencement of the taking of Cyprus, and the 
which he determined to clasp about the neck of his pretty 
associate, but he hung there at the same time his domain, 
and his white hairs, his money and his horses. In short, 
he placed there everything he possessed, directly he had 
seen Blanche of Azay dancing a pavan among the ladies 
of Tours. Although the Moorish girl, making the most 
of her last day, had astonished the assembly by her twists, 
jumps, steps, springs, elevations, and artistic efforts, 
Blanche had the advantage of her, as every one agreed, 
so virginally and delicately did she dance. 

Now Bruyn, admiring this gentle maiden whose toes 
seemed to fear the boards, and who amused herself so 
innocently for her seventeen years — like a grasshopper 
trying her first note — was seized with an old man's crav- 
ing; a desire apoplectic and vigorous from weakness, 
which vexed him from the sole of his foot to the nape of 
his neck — for his head had too much snow on the top of 
it to let love lodge there. Then the good man perceived 
that he needed a wife in his manor, and it appeared more 
lonely to him than it was. And what then was a castle 
without a chatelaine? As well have a clapper without 
its bell. In short, a wife was the only thing that he had 
to desire, so he wished to have one promptly, seeing 
that if the Lady of Azay made him wait, he had just time 
to pass out of this world into the other. But during the 


baptismal entertainment, he thought little of his severe 
wounds, and still less of the eighty years that had stripped 
his head; he found his eyes clear enough to see distinctly 
his young companion, who following the injunctions of 
the Lady of Azay, regaled him well with glance and ges- 
ture, believing there could be no danger near so old a 
fellow, in such wise that Blanche— naive and nice as she 
was in contradistinction to the girls of Touraine, who are 
as wide-awake as a spring morning — permitted the good 
man first to kiss her hand, and afterwards her neck 
rather low down; at least so said the archbishop who 
married them the week after; and that was a beautiful 
bridal and a still more beautiful bride. 

The said Blanche was slender and graceful as no other 
girl, and still better than that, more maidenly than ever 
maiden was; a maiden all ignorant of love, who knew 
not why or what it was; a maiden who wondered why 
certain people lingered in their ways, a maiden who be- 
lieved that children were found in parsley beds. Her 
mother had thus reared her in innocence, without even 
allowing her to consider, trifle as it was, how she sucked 
in her soup between her teeth. Thus was she a sweet 
flower, and intact, joyous and* innocent; an angel, who 
needed but the wings to fly away to Paradise. When 
she left the poor lodging of her weeping mother to con- 
summate her betrothal at the cathedral of St. Gatien and 
St. Maurice, the country people came to feast their eyes 
upon the bride, and on the carpets which were laid down 
all along the Rue de la Scellerie, and all said that never 
had tinier feet pressed the ground of Touraine, prettier 
eyes gazed up to heaven, or a more splendid festival 
adorned the streets with carpets and with flowers. The 
young girls of St. Martin and of the borough of Chateau- 
Neuf all envied the long brown tresses with which doubt- 


less Blanche had fished for a count, but much more did 
they desire the gold embroidered dress, the foreign 
stones, the white diamonds, and the chains with which 
the little darling played, and which bound her forever to 
the said seneschal. The old soldier was so merry by her 
side, that his happiness showed itself in his wrinkles, his 
looks, and his movements. Although he was hardly as 
straight as a billhook, he held himself so by the side of 
Blanche, that one would have taken him for a soldier on 
parade receiving his officer, and he placed his hand on 
his diaphragm like a man whose pleasure stifles and 
troubles him. Delighted with the sound of the swinging 
bells, the procession, the pomps and vanities of this said 
marriage, which was talked of long after the episcopal 
rejoicings, the women desired a harvest of Moorish girls, 
a deluge of old seneschals, and basketfuls of Egyptian 
baptisms. But this was the only one that ever happened 
in Touraine, seeing that the country is far from Egypt 
and from Bohemia. The Lady of Azay received a 
large sum of money after the ceremony which enabled 
her to start immediately for Acre to go to her spouse, ac- 
companied by the lieutenant and soldiers of the Count of 
Roche-Corbon, who furnished them with everything nec- 
essary. She set out on the day of the wedding, after 
having placed her daughter in the hands of the seneschal, 
enjoining him to treat her well; and later on she returned 
with the Sire d'Azay, who was leprous, and she cured 
him, tending him herself, running the risk of being con- 
taminated, the which was greatly admired. 

The marriage ceremony finished and at an end— for it 
lasted three days, to the great contentment of the people 
— Messire Bruyn with great pomp led the little one to 
his castle, and, according to the custom of husbands, 
had her put solemnly to bed in his couch, which was 


blessed by the Abbot of Marmous tiers; then came and 
placed himself beside her in the great feudal chamber of 
Roche-Corbon, which had been hung with green brocade 
and ribbon of golden wire. When old Bruyn, perfumed 
all over, found himself side by side with his pretty wife, 
he kissed her first upon the forehead and then upon the 
little round white breast, on the same spot where she 
had allowed him to clasp the fastenings of the chain, but 
that was all. The old fellow had too great confidence in 
himself in fancying himself able to accomplish more; so 
then he abstained from love in spite of the merry nup- 
tial songs, the epithalamiums and jokes which were 
going on in the rooms beneath where the dancing was 
still kept up. He refreshed himself with a drink of the 
marriage beverage, which, according to custom, had been 
blessed and placed near them in a golden cup. The 
spices warmed his stomach well enough, but not the heart 
of his dead ardor. Blanche was not at all astonished at 
the demeanor of her spouse, because she was a virgin in 
mind, and in marriage she only saw that which is visible 
to the eyes of young girls — namely, dresses, banquets, 
horses, to be a lady and mistress, to have a country-seat, 
to amuse one's self and give orders; so, like the child 
that she was, she played with the gold tassels of the 
bed, and marvelled at the riohness of the shrine in which 
her innocence should be interred. Feeling, a little later 
in the day, his culpability, and relying on the future, 
which, however, would spoil a little every day that with 
which he pretended to regale his wife, the seneschal 
tried to substitute the word for the deed. So he enter- 
tained his wife in various ways, promised her the keys of 
his sideboards, his granaries and chests, the perfect gov- 
ernment of his houses and domains without any control, 
hanging round her neck "the other half of the loaf," 


which is the popular saying in Touraine, She being 
like a young charger full of hay, found her good man 
the most gallant fellow in the world, and raising herself 
upon her pillow began to smile, and beheld with greater 
joy this beautiful green brocaded bed, where hencefor- 
ward she would be permitted, without any sin, to sleep 
every night. Seeing she was getting playful, the cun- 
ning lord, who had not been used to maidens, but knew 
from experience the little tricks that women will practice, 
seeing that he had much associated with ladies of the 
town, feared those handy tricks, little kisses and minor 
amusements of love which formerly he did not object to, 
but which, at the present time, would have found him 
cold as the obit of a pope. Then he drew back towards 
the edge of the bed, afraid of his happiness, and said to 
his too delectable spouse, "Well, darling, you are a 
seneschal's wife now, and very well seneschaled as 

"Oh, no!" said she. 

"How no!" replied he in great fear; "are you not a 
wife? " 

"No," said she. "Nor shall I be till I have a child." 

"Did you while coming t here see the meadows?" 
began again the old fellow. 

"Yes," said she. 

"Well, they are yours." 

"Oh! oh!" replied she laughing, "I shall amuse 
myself much there catching butterflies." 

"That's a good girl," said her lord. "And the 
woods? " 

"Ah! I should not like to be there alone; you will 
take me there. But," said she, "give me a little of that 
liquor which La Ponneuse has taken such pains to pre- 
pare for us." 


"And why, my darling? It would put fire into your 

"Oh! that's what I would like/' said she biting her 
lips with vexation, "because I desire to make you happy 
as soon as possible; and I am sure that liquor is good 
for the purpose." 

"Ah! my little one," said the seneschal, knowing by 
this that Blanche was a virgin from head to foot, "the 
good- will of God is necessary for this happiness, and wo- 
men must be in a state of reason." 

"And when shall I be in a state of reason?" asked 
she smiling. 

"When nature so wills it," said he trying to laugh. 

"What is it necessary to do for this ? " replied she. 

"Bah! a cabalistical and alchemical operation, which 
is very dangerous." 

"Ah! " said she with a dreamy look, "that's the rea- 
son why my mother cried when thinking of the said met- 
amorphosis; but Bertha de Breuilly, who is so thankful 
for being made happy, told me it was the easiest thing 
in the world." 

"That's according to the age," replied the old lord. 
"But did you see at the stable the beautiful white mare 
so much spoken of in Touraine ? " 

"Yes, she is very gentle and nice." 

"Well, I give her to you, and you can ride her as 
often as the fancy takes you." 

"Oh, you are very kind, and they did not lie when 
they told me so." 

"Here," continued he, "sweetheart: the butler, the 
chaplain, the treasurer, the equerry, the farrier, the bai- 
liff, even the Sire de Montsoreau, the young varlet whose 
name is Gauttier, and bears my banner, with his men-at 
arms, captains, followers, and beasts — all are yours, and 


will instantly obey your orders under pain of being incom- 
moded with a hempen collar. " 

"But," replied she, "this mysterious operation — can- 
not it be performed immediately ? " 

"Oh, no!" replied the seneschal. " Because it is nec- 
essary above all things that both the one and the other 
of us should be in a state of grace before God; otherwise 
we should have a bad child full of sins; which is for- 
bidden by the canons of the church. This is the reason 
there are so many incorrigible scapegraces in the world. 
Their parents have not- wisely waited to have their souls 
pure, and have given wicked souls to their children. The 
beautiful and the virtuous come of immaculate fathers; 
that is why we cause our beds to be blessed, as the Ab- 
bot of Marmoustiers has done this one. Have you not 
transgressed the ordinances of the church ? " 

"Oh, no," said she quickly, "I received before Mass 
absolution for all my faults, and have remained since 
without committing the slightest sin." 

" You are very perfect," cried the cunning lord, " and 
I am delighted to have you for a wife; but I have sworn 
like an infidel." 

"Oh! and why?" 

"Because the dancing did not finish, and I could not 
have you to myself to bring you here and kiss you." 
* Thereupon he gallantly took her hands and covered 
them with kisses, whispering to her little endearments 
and superficial words of affection, which made her quite 
pleased and contented. 

Then, fatigued with the dance and all the ceremonies, 
she settled down to her slumbers, saying to the seneschal: 

"I will take care to-morrow that you shall not sin," 
and she left the old man quite smitten with her white 
beauty, amorous of her delicate nature, and as embar- 


rassed to know how he should be able to keep her in her 
innocence as to explain why oxen chew, their food twice 
over. Although he did not augur to himself any good 
therefrom, it inflamed him so much to see the exquisite 
perfections of Blanche during her innocent and gentle 
sleep, that he resolved to preserve and defend this pretty 
jewel of love. With tears in his eyes he kissed her 
sweet golden tresses, her beautiful eyelids, and her ripe 
red mouth, and he did it softly for fear of waking her. 
That was all his fruition, the dumb delight which still 
inflamed his heart without in the least affecting Blanche. 
Then he deplored the snows of his leafless old age, the 
poor old man, and he saw clearly that God had amused 
himself by giving him nuts when his teeth were gone. 


During the first days of his marriage the seneschal in- 
vented many fibs to tell his wife, whose so estimable in- 
nocence he abused. Firstly, he fouud in his judicial 
functions good excuses for leaving her at times alone; 
then he occupied himself with the peasants of the neigh- 
borhood, and took them to dress the vines on his lands 
at Vouvray, and at length pampered her up with a 
thousand absurd tales. 

At one time he would say that lords did not behave 
like common people, that the children were only planted 
at certain celestial conjunctions ascertained by learned 
astrologers; at another that one should abstain from be- 
getting children on feast days because it was a great un- 
dertaking; and he observed the feasts like a man who 
wished to enter into Paradise without contest. Some- 


times he would pretend that if by chance the parents 
were not in a state of grace, the children if born on 
the day of St. Claire were blind, of St. Gatien had the 
gout, of St. Agnes were scaldheaded, of St. Roch had 
the plague; sometimes that those begotten in February 
were chilly; in March, too turbulent; in April were worth 
nothing at all; and that handsome boys were conceived 
in May. In short, he wished his to be perfect, to have 
his hair of two colors, and for this it was necessary that 
all the required conditions should be observed. At other 
times he would say to Blanche that the right of a man 
was to bestow a child upon his wife according to his sole 
and unique will, and that if she pretended to be a virtu- 
ous woman she should conform to the wishes of her hus- 
band; in fact, it was necessary to await the return of the 
Lady of Azay in order that she should assist at the con- 
finement; from all of which Blanche concluded that the 
seneschal was annoyed by her requests, and was perhaps 
right, since he was old and full of experience; so she 
submitted herself and thought no more, except to herself, 
of this so-much desired child, that is to say, she was al- 
ways thinking of it, like a woman who has a desire in 
her head, without suspecting that she was behaving like 
a gay lady or a town-walker running after her enjoyment. 
One evening by accident Bruyn spoke of children, a dis- 
course that he avoided as cats avoid water, but he was 
complaining of a boy condemned by him that morning 
for great misdeeds, saying for certain he was the off- 
spring of people laden with mortal sins. 

" Alas," said Blanche, "if you will give me one, al- 
though you have not got absolution, I will correct him 
so well that you will be pleased with him. " 

Then the count saw that his wife was bitten by a warm 
desire, and that it was time to dissipate her innocence in 


order to make himself master of it, to conquer it, to beat 
it, or to appease and extinguish it. 

"What, my dear, you wish to be a mother?" said he, 
"you do not yet know the business of a wife, you are 
not accustomed to being mistress of the house. " 

"Oh! oh! "said she, ic to be a perfect countess, must 
I play the great lady? I will do it, and thoroughly. " 

Then Blanche, in order to obtain issue, began to hunt 
the fawns and the stags, leaping the ditches, galloping 
upon her mare over valley and mountain, through the 
woods and the fields, taking great delight in watching 
the falcons fly, in unhooding them, " and while hunting 
always carried them gracefully upon her little wrist, which 
was what the seneschal had desired. But in this pursuit 
Blanche gained an appetite of nun and prelate, that is to 
say, wished to procreate, had her desires whetted, and 
could scarcely restrain her hunger, when on her return 
she gave play to her teeth. Now by reason of reading 
the legends written by the way, and of separating by 
death the embraces of birds and wild beasts, she discov- 
ered a mystery of natural alchemy, while coloring her 
complexion, and super-agitating her feeble imagination, 
which did little to pacify her warlike nature, and strongly 
tickled her desire, which laughed, played, and frisked 
unmistakably. The seneschal thought to disarm the re- 
bellious virtue of his wife by making her scour the coun- 
try; but his fraud turned out badly, for the unknown lust 
that circulated in the veins of Blanche emerged from 
these assaults more hardy than before, inviting joust and 
tourneys as a herald the armed knight. 

The good lord saw that he had grossly erred and that he 
was now upon the horns of a dilemma; also he no longer 
knew what course to adopt; the longer he left it the more 
it would resist. From this combat, there must result one 


conquered and one contused — a diabolical contusion which 
he wished to keep distant from his physiognomy by God's 
help until after his death. The poor seneschal had al- 
ready great trouble to follow his lady to the chase, with- 
out being dismounted; he sweated under the weight of 
his trappings, and almost expired in that pursuit wherein 
his frisky wife cheered her life and took great pleasure. 
Many times in the evening she wished to dance. Now, the 
good man, swathed in his heavy clothing, found himself 
quite worn out with these exercises, in which he was con- 
strained to participate either in giving her his hand, when 
she performed the vaults of the Moorish girl, or in hold- 
ing the lighted fagot for her, when she had a fancy to do 
the torchlight dance; and in spite of his siaticas, accre- 
tions, and rheumatisms he was obliged to smile and say 
to her some gentle words and gallantries after all the ev- 
olutions, mummeries, and comic pantomimes which she 
indulged in to divert herself; for he loved her so madly 
that if she had asked him for an impossibility he would 
have sought one for her immediately. 

Nevertheless, one fine day he recognized the fact that 
his frame was in a state of too great debility to strug- 
gle with the vigorous nature of his wife, and humiliating 
himself before his wife's virtue, he resolved to let things 
take their course, relying a little upon the modesty, re- 
ligion, and bashfulness of Blanche; but he always slept 
with one eye open, for he suspected that God had made 
women to be taken like partridges, to be spitted and 
roasted. One wet morning, when the weather was that 
in which the snails make their tracks, a melancholy time, 
and suitable to reverie, Blanche was in the house sitting 
in her chair in deep thought, because nothing produces 
more lively coctions of the substantial essences, and no 
receipt, specific, or philter is more penetrating, trans- 


piercing, or doubly transpiercing and titillating than the 
subtle warmth which simmers within the heart of a 
maiden during certain weather. 

Now, without knowing it, the countess was incom- 
moded by her innocence, which gave more trouble than 
it was worth to her brain, and gnawed her all over. 
Then the good man, seriously grieved to see her languish- 
ing, wished to drive away the thoughts which were ultra- 
conjugal principles of love. 

" Whence comes your sadness, sweetheart ?" said he, 

"From shame/' 

" What then affronts you?" 

"The not being a good woman; because I am without 
a child, and you without lineage! Is one a lady without 
progeny? Nay! look! ...» all my neighbors have it, and 
I was married to have it, as you to give it me; the no- 
bles of Touraine are all amply furnished with children, 
You alone have none; they laugh at you there. What 
will become of your name and your fiefs and your seig- 
niories ? A child is our natural company; it is a delight 
to us to make a fright of it, to fondle it, to swaddle it, to 
dress and undress it, to cuddle it, to sing it lullabies, to 
cradle it, to get it up, to put it to bed, and to nourish it, 
and I feel that if I had only the half of one, I would kiss 
it, swaddle it, and unharness it, and I would make it 
jump and crow all day long, as the other ladies do." 

"Were it not that in giving them birth women die, 
and that for this you are still too delicate you would be 
already a mother/' replied the seneschal, made giddy 
with the flow of words. "But will you buy one ready 
made — that will cost you neither pain nor labor. " 

"But," said she, "I want the pain and labor, without 
4 which it will not be ours. I know very well it should be 


the fruit of my body, because at church they say that 
Jesus was the fruit of the Virgin's womb." 

"Very well, then pray God that it may be so," cried 
the seneschal, "and intercede with the Virgin of Egrig- 
nolles. Many a lady has conceived after the neuvaine; 
you must not fail to do one. " 

Then the same day Blanche set out towards Notre 
Dame de PEgrignolles, decked out like a queen, riding 
her beautiful mare, having on her a robe of green vel- 
vet, laced down with a fine gold lace, open at the breast, 
having sleeves of scarlet, little shoes, and a high hat 
ornamented with precious stones, and a gold waistband 
that showed off her little waist, as slim as a pole. She 
wished to give her dress to Madame the Virgin, and in 
fact promised it her, for the day of her churching. The 
Sire de Montsoreau galloped before her, his eyes bright 
as that of a hawk, keeping the people back and guarding 
with his knights the security of the journey. Near 
Marmoustiers the seneschal, rendered sleepy by the 
heat, seeing it was the month of August, waggled about 
in his saddle, like a diadem upon the head of a cow, and 
seeing so frolicsome and so pretty a lady by the side of 
so old a fellow, a peasant girl, who was squatting near 
the trunk of a tree and drinking water out of her stone 
jug, inquired of a toothless old hag, who picked up a 
trifle by gleaning, if this princess was going to bury her 

" Nay," said the old woman, "it is our lady of Roche- 
Corbon, wife of the Seneschal of Poictou and Touraine, 
in quest of a child. " 

"Ah! ah!" said the young girl, laughing like a fly 
just satisfied; then pointing to the handsome knight who 
was at the head of the procession — "he who marches at 


the head would manage that; she would save the wax 
candles and the vow." 

u Ha! my little one/' replied the hag, "I am rather 
surprised that she should go to Notre-Dame de 1'Egrig- 
nolles, seeing that there are no handsome priests there. 
She might very well stop for a short time beneath the 
shadow of the belfry of Marmoustiers." 

"By a nun's oath! " said a tramp walking up, "look; 
the Sire de Montsoreau is lively and delicate enough to 
open the lady's heart, the more so as he is well formed 
to do so." 

And all commenced to laugh. The Sire de Montso- 
reau wished to go to them and hang them to a lime tree 
by the road as a punishment for their bad words, but 
Blanche cried out quickly: 

"Oh, sir, do not hang them yet. They have not said 
all they mean; and we shall see them on our return." 

She blushed, and the Sire de Montsoreau looked at 
her eagerly, as -though to shoot into her the mystic com- 
prehensions of love, but the clearing out of her intelli- 
gence had already been commenced by the sayings of 
the peasants, which were fructifying in her understand- 
ing — her innocence was like touchwood, there was only 
need for a word to inflame it. 

Thus Blanche perceived now the notable and physical 
differences between the qualities of her old husband and 
the perfections of the said Gauttier, a gentleman who 
was not over-affected with his twenty-three years, but 
held himself upright as a ninepin in the saddle, and as 
wide-awake as the matin chimes, while, in contrast to 
him, slept the seneschal; he had the courage and dex- 
terity there where his master failed. He was one of 
those smart fellows whom the jades would sooner wear 
at night than a leathern garment, because they then no 


longer fear the fleas; there are some who vituperate 
them, but no one should be blamed, because every onu 
should sleep as he likes. 

So much did the seneschal's lady think, and so impe- 
rially well, that by the time she arrived at the bridge of 
Tours, she loved Gauttier secretly, as a maiden loves, 
without suspecting that it is love. From that she be- 
came a proper woman, that is to say, she desired the 
good of others, the best that men have; she fell into a 
fit of love-sickness, going at the first jump to the depth 
of her misery, seeing that all is flame between the first 
coveting and the last desire, and she knew not how she 
then learnt that by the eyes can flow in a subtle essence, 
causing such powerful corrosions in all the veins of the 
body, recesses of the heart, nerves of the members, 
roots of the hair, perspiration of the substance, limbo of 
the brain, orifices of the epidermis, windings of the 
pluck, tubes of the hypochondriac and other channels, 
which in her were suddenly dilated, envenomed, clawed, 
harrowed, and disturbed, as if she had a basketful of 
needles in her inside. This was a maiden's desire, a 
well-conditioned desire, which troubled her sight to such 
a degree that she no longer saw her old spouse, but 
clearly the, young Gauttier, whose nature was as ample 
as the glorious chin of an abbot. When the good man 
entered Tours, the "Ah! Ah! " of the crowd woke him up, 
and he came with great pomp with his suit to the church 
of Notre-Dame de PEgrignolles, formerly called la 
gregineur, as if you said that which has the most merit. 
Blanche went into the chapel where children are asked 
of God and of the Virgin, and went there alone, as was 
the custom, always, however, in presence of the sene- 
schal, of his varlets and the loiterers who remained out- 
side the grill. When the countess saw the priest come 

Droll Stories— 4 


who had charge of the masses said for children, and who 
received the said vows, she asked him if there were many 
barren women. To which the good priest replied that 
he must not complain, and that the children were good 
revenue to the church. 

" And do you often see," said Blanche, "young women 
with such old husbands as my lord ? ' 

"Rarely," said he. 

"But have those obtained offspring?" 

"Always," replied the priest smiling. 

"And the others whose companions are not so old ? " 


"Oh! oh!" said she, " there is more certainty, then, 
with one like the seneschal ? " 

"To be sure," said the priest. 

"Why?" said she. 

"Madame," gravely replied the priest, "before that 
age God alone interferes with the affair — after, it is the 

At this time it was a true thing that all the wisdom 
had gone to the clergy. Blanche made her vow, which 
was a very profitable one, seeing that her decorations 
were worth quite two thousand gold crowns. 

"You are very joyful!" said the old seneschal to har 
when on her home journey she made her mare prance, 
jump and frisk. 

"Yes, yes! " said she. " There is no longer any doubt 
about my having lineage, because anyone can help me, 
the priest said. 

The seneschal wished to go and slay the monk, but he 
thought that was a crime which would cost him too 
much, and he resolved cunningly to arrange his ven- 
geance with the help of the archbishop; and before the 
housetops of Roche-Corbon came in sight he had ordered 


the Sire de Montsoreau to seek a little retirement in his 
own country, which the young Gauttier did, knowing the 
ways of his lord. The seneschal put in the place of the 
said Gauttier the son of the Sire de Jallanges, whose fief 
was held from Roche-Corbon. He was a young boy 
named Ren6, approaching fourteen years, and he made 
him a page, awaiting the time when he should be old 
enough to be equerry, and gave the command of his men 
to an old cripple, with whom he had knocked about a 
great deal in Palestine and other places. Thus the good 
man believed he would avoid the horned trappings of 
cuckoldom, and would still be able to girth, bridle and 
curb the factious innocence of his wife, which struggled 
like a mule held by a rope. 


The Sunday following the arrival of Rene at the manor 
of Roche-Corbon, Blanche went out hunting without her 
goodman, and when she was in the forest near Les Car- 
neaux, saw a monk who appeared to be misusing some 
body more than was necessary, and spurred on her 
horse, saying to her people, u Ho, there! don't let him 
kill her." But when the seneschal's lady arrived close 
to them, she turned her horse's head quickly and started 
for Roche-Corbon. She came back pensive, and then 
the lantern of her intelligence opened, and received a 
bright light, which made a thousand things clear, such 
as church and other pictures, fables, and lays of the 
troubadours, or the domestic arrangements of birds; 
suddenly she discovered the sweet mystery of love writ- 
ten in all languages, even in that of the carps'. Is it not 
silly thus to seal this science from maidens ? Soon went 
Blanche to bed, and soon said she to the seneschal: 


" Bruyn, you have deceived me; you ought to love 
as the monk of Carneaux loved the girl." 

Old Bruyn suspected the adventure, and saw well that 
his evil hour was at hand. He regarded Blanche with 
much fire in his eyes, and answered her softly: 

"Alas! sweetheart, in taking you for my wife I had 
more love than health and I have taken advantage of 
your clemency and virtue. The great sorrow of my life 
is to feel all my capability in my heart only. This sor- 
row hastens my death little by little, so that you will soon 
be free. Wait for my departure from this world. That 
is the sole request that he makes of you, he who is your 
master, and who could command you but who wishes 
only to be your prime minister and slave. Do not betray 
the honor of my white hairs! Under these circumstances 
there have been lords who have slain their wives." 

"Alas! you will not kill me ?" said she. 

"No," replied the old man, "I love thee too much, 
little one; why, thou art the flower of my old age, the joy 
of my soul. Thou art my well-beloved daughter; the 
sight of thee does good to mine eyes, and from thee I 
could endure anything, be it a sorrow or a joy; I give 
thee full license in everything, provided that thou dost 
not curse too much the poor Bruyn who has made thee 
a great lady, rich and honored. Wilt thou not be a love- 
ly widow ? And thy happiness will soften the pangs of 

And he found in his dried-up eyes still one tear, which 
trickled quite warm down his fir-cone colored face, and 
fell upon the hand of Blanche, who, grieved to behold 
this great love of her old spouse, who would put himself 
under the ground to please her, said laughing: 

"There! there! don't cry, I will wait!" 

Thereupon the seneschal kissed her hands and regaled 


her with little endearments, saying with a voice quiver- 
ing with emotion: 

" If you knew, Blanche, my darling, how I devour thee 
in thy sleep with caresses, now here, now there!" And 
the old ape patted her with his two hands, which were 
nothing but bones. And he continued, "I dared not 
awaken the cat that would have strangled my happiness, 
since at this occupation of love I only embraced with my 

" Ah!" replied she, "you can fondle me thus even when 
my eyes are open; that has not the least effect upon me." 

At these words the poor seneschal, taking the little dag- 
ger which was on the table by the bed, gave it to her, 
saying with passion : 

"My darling, kill me, or let me believe that you love 
me a little!" 

"Yes, yes," said she quite frightened, " I will try to 
love you much." 

Behold how this young maiden made herself master of 
this old man and subdued him, for in the name of the 
sweet face of Venus, Blanche, endowed with the natural 
artfulness of women, made her old Bruyn come and go 
like a miller's mule. 

"My good Bruyn, I want this! Bruyn, I want that — 
go on, Bruyn!" Bruyn! Bruyn! and always Bruyn in 
such a way that Bruyn was more worn out by the clem- 
ency of his wife than he would have been by her unkind- 
ness. She turned his brain, wishing that everything 
should be in scarlet, making him turn everything topsy- 
turvy at the least movement of her eyebrow, and when 
she was sad the seneschal, distracted, would say to every- 
thing from his judicial seat, "Hang him!" Another 
would have died like a fly at this conflict with the maid's 
innocence, but Bruyn was of such an iron nature that it 


was difficult to finish him off. One evening that Blanche 
had turned the house upside-down, upset the men and 
the beasts, and would by her aggravating humor have 
made the eternal Father desperate — He who has such an 
infinite treasure of patience since he endures us — she said 
to the seneschal while getting into bed, " My good Bruyn, 
I have low down fancies, that bite and prick me; thence 
they rise into my heart, inflame my brain, incite me there- 
in to evil deeds, and in the night I dream of the monk of 
the Carneaux." 

"My dear," replied the seneschal, " these are devilries 
and temptations against which the monks and the nuns 
know how to defend themselves. If you will gain salva- 
tion, go and confess to the worthy Abbot of Marmous- 
tiers, our neighbor; he will advise you well and will hol- 
ily direct you in the good way." 

" To-morrow I will go," said she. 

And, indeed, directly it was' day, she trotted off to the 
monastery of the good brethren, who marvelled to see 
among them so pretty a lady, and for the present led her 
with great ceremony to their reverend abbot. 

Blanche found the said good man in a private garden 
near the high rock under a flowery arcade, and remained 
stricken with respect at the countenance of the holy man, 
although she was accustomed not to think much of gray 

"God preserve you, madame; what come you to seek 
of one so near death, you so young? " 

"Your precious advice," said she, saluting him with a 
courtesy; "and if it will please you to guide so undutiful 
a sheep, I shall be well content to have so wise a con- 

6 ( My daughter, " answered the monk, with whom old 
Bruyn had arranged this hypocrisy and the part to play, 


"if I had not the chills of a hundred winters upon this 
unthatched head, I should not dare to listen to your 
sins, but say on; if you enter paradise, it will be through 

Then the seneschal's wife set forth the small fry of her 
stock in hand, and when she was purged of her little in- 
iquities, she came to the postscript of her confession. 

"Ah, my father!" said she, "I must confess to you 
that I am daily exercised by the desire to have a child. 
Is it wrong? " 

"No," said the abbot. 

But she went on: "It is by nature commanded to my 
husband not to draw from his wealth to bring about his 
poverty, as the old women say by the way. " 

"Then," replied the priest, "you must live virtuously 
and abstain from all thoughts of this kind.," 

"But I have heard it professed by the Lady of Jal- 
langes, that it was not a sin when from it one derived 
neither profit nor pleasure." 

"There always is pleasure," said the abbot, "but don't 
count upon the child as a profit. Now fix this in your 
understanding, that it will always be a mortal sin before 
God and a crime before men to bring forth a child 
through the embraces of a man to whom one is not ec- 
clesiastically married. Thus those women who offend 
against the holy laws of marriage, suffer great penalties 
in the other world, are in the power of horrible monsters 
with sharp and tearing claws who thrust them into flam- 
ing furnaces in remembrance of the fact that here below 
they have warmed their hearts a little more than was 

Thereupon Blanche scratched her ear, and having 
thought to herself for a little while, she said to the priest, 

". How then did the Virgin Mary? " 


" Ah! " replied the abbot, " that is a mystery. " 

" And what is a mystery ? " 

"A thing that cannot be explained, and which one 
ought to believe without inquiring into it." 

' ' Well, then/' said she, " cannot I perform a mystery?" 

"This one," said the abbot, "only happened once, 
because it was the Son of God." 

"Alas! my father, is it then the will of God that I 
should die, or that from wise and sound comprehension 
my brain should be turned? Of this there is great dan- 
ger. Now in me something moves and excites me, and 
I am no longer in my senses. I care for nothing, and to 
find a man I would leap the walls, dash over the fields 
without shame and tear my things into tatters, only to 
see that which so much excited the monk of the Car- 
neaux; and during these passions which work and prick 
my mind and body there is neither God, devil, nor hus- 
band. I spring, I run, I smash up the wash-tubs, the 
farm implements, the fowl-house, the household things 
and everything in a way that I cannot describe. But I 
dare not confess to you all my misdeeds because speak - 
of them makes my mouth water, and the thing with 
which God curses me makes me itch dreadfully. If this 
folly bites and pricks me, and slays my virtue, will God, 
who has placed this great love in ray body, condemn me 
to perdition? " 

At this question it was the priest who scratched his 
ear, quite dumbfounded by the lamentations, profound 
wisdom, controversies, and intelligence that this virgini- 
ty secreted. 

"My daughter," said he, "God has distinguished us 
from the beasts and made us a paradise to gain, and for 
this given us reason, which is a rudder to steer us 
against tempests and our ambitious desires, and there is 


a means of easing the imaginations in one's brain by fast- 
ing, excessive labors and other virtues; and instead of 
frisking and fretting like a child let loose from school, 
you should pray to the Virgin, sleep on a hard board, 
attend to your household duties and never be idle. " 

"Ah! my father, when I am at church in my seat, I 
see neither the priest nor the altar, only the infant Jesus, 
who brings the thing into my head. But to finish, if my 
head is turned and my mind wanders, I am in the lime- 
twigs of love." 

"If thus you were," said the abbot imprudently, 
"you would be in the position of Saint Lidoire, who in 
a deep sleep one day, was approached by a young man 
full of mischief, and as of this trick the saint was thor- 
oughly ignorant, and much surprised at being brought to 
bed, thinking that her unusual size was a serious malady, 
she did penance for it as a venial sin, as she had no 
pleasure in this wicked business, according to the state- 
ment of the wicked man, who said upon the scaffold 
where he was executed, that the saint had in no wise 

"Oh, my father," said she, "be sure that I should 
not stir more than she did ! " 

With this statement she went away prettily and grace- 
fully, smiling and thinking how she could commit a ven- 
ial sin. On her return from the great monastery, she 
saw in the courtyard of her castle the little Jallanges, 
who under the superintendence of an old groom, was 
turning and wheeling about on a fine horse, bending 
with the movements of the animal, dismounting, and 
mounting again by vaults and leaps most gracefully, and 
with lissome thighs, so pretty, so dexterous, so upright 
as to be indescribable, so much so, that he would have 


made the Queen Lucrece long for him, she who killed 
herself from being contaminated against her will. 

" Ah 1 " said Blanche, "if only this page were fifteen." 

Then, in spite of the too great youth of this charming 
servitor, during the collation and supper, she eyed fre- 
quently the black hair, the white skin, the grace of Rene, 
above all his eyes, where was an abundance of liquid 
warmth and a great fire of life, which he was afraid to 
shoot out — child that he was. 

Now in the evening, as the seneschal's wife sat thought- 
fully in her chair in the corner of the fire-place, old 
Bruyn interrogated her as to her trouble. 

"I am thinking," said she, "that you must have 
fought the battles of love very early, to be thus com- 
pletely broken up." 

"Oh ! " replied he, smiling like all old men questioned 
upon their amorous remembrances, "at the age of thir- 
teen and a half I had made love to my mother's wait- 

Blanche wished to hear nothing more, but believed 
the page Rene" should be equally advanced, and she was 
quite joyous, and parcticed little allurements on the good 
man, and wallowed silently in her desire, like a cake 
which is being floured. 


The seneschal's wife did not think long over the best 
way quickly to awaken the love of the page, and had 
soon discovered the natural ambuscade in the which the 
most wary are taken. This is how, at the warmest 
hour of the day the good man took his siesta after the 
Saracen fashion, a habit in which he had never failed, 


since his return from the Holy Land. During this 
time Blanche was alone in the grounds, where the 
women work at their minor occupations, such as broid- 
ering and stitching, and often remained in the rooms 
looking after the washing, putting the clothes tidy, or 
running about at will. Then she appointed this quiet 
hour to complete the education of the page, making 
him read books and say his prayers. Now on the 
morrow, when at the midday hour the seneschal slept, 
succumbing to the sun which warms with its most 
luminous rays the slopes of Roche-Corbon, so much so 
that one is obliged to sleep, unless annoyed, upset, and 
continually roused by a devil of a young woman. 
Blanche then gracefully perched herself in the great 
seignorial chair of her good man, which she did not 
find any too high, since she counted upon the chances 
of perspective. The cunning jade settled herself dex- 
terously therein, like a swallow in its nest, and leant 
her head maliciously upon her arm like a child that 
sleeps ; but in making her preparations she opened fond 
eyes, that smiled and winked in advance of the little 
secret thrills, sneezes, squints, and trances of the page 
who was about to lie at her feet, separated from her by 
the jump of an old flea ; and in fact she advanced so 
much and so near the square of velvet where the poor 
child should kneel, whose life and soul she trifled with, 
that had he been a saint of stone, his glance would have 
been constrained to follow the flexuosities of the dress 
in order to admire and re-admire the perfections and 
beauties of the shapely leg, which moulded the white 
stocking of the seneschal's lady. Thus it was certain 
that a weak varlet would be taken in a snare, wherein 
the most vigorous knight would willingly have suc- 
cumbed. When she had turned, returned, placed, and 


displaced her body, and found the situation in which 
the page would be most comfortable, she cried gently, 
"Rene !" Ren6, whom she well knew was in the guard- 
room, did not fail to run in and quickly thrust his 
brown head between the tapestries of the door. 

"What do you please to wish?" said the page. And 
he held with great respect in his hand his shaggy scarlet 
cap, less red than his fresh dimpled cheeks. 

"Come hither," replied she under her breath, for the 
child attracted her so strongly that she was quite over- 

And forsooth there were no jewels so sparkling as 
the eyes of Rene, no vellum whiter than his skin, no 
woman more exquisite in shape — and so near to her 
desire, she found him still more sweetly formed — and 
was certain that the merry frolics of love would radiate 
well from all this youth, the warm sun, the silence, 
et cetera. 

"Read me the litanies of Madame the Virgin," said 
she to him, pushing an open book to him on her prie- 
dieu. "Let me see if you are well taught by your 
master. " 

"Do you not think the Virgin beautiful?" asked she 
of him, smiling when he held the illuminated prayer- 
book in which glowed the silver and the gold. 

"It is a painting," replied he timidly, and casting a 
little glance upon his so gracious mistress. 

'Read ! read !" 

Then Rene" began to recite the so sweet and so 
mystic litanies; but you may imagine that the %t Ora 
pro nobis" of Blanche became still fainter and fainter, 
like the sound of the horn in the woodlands, and when 
the page went on, "Oh, Rose of mystery," the lady> 
who certainly heard distinctly, replied by a gentle sigh. 


Thereupon Rene* suspected that his mistress slept. 
Then he commenced to cover her with his regard, 
admiring her at his leisure, and had then no wish to 
utter any anthem save the anthem of love. His happi- 
ness made his heart leap and bound into his throat ; 
thus, as was but natural, these two innocences burned 
one against the other, but if they could have foreseen 
never would have intermingled. Rene" feasted his eyes, 
planning in his mind a thousand fruitions of love that 
brought the water into his mouth. In his ecstacy he let 
his book fall, which made him feel as sheepish as a 
monk surprised at a child's tricks ; but also from that 
he knew that Blanche was sound asleep, for she did 
not stir, and the wily jade would not have opened her 
eyes even at the greatest dangers, and reckoned on 
something else falling as well as the book of prayer. 

There is no worse longing than the longing of 
woman in a certain condition. Now, the page noticed 
his lady's foot, which was delicately slippered in a little 
laced shoe of a delicate blue color. She had angularly 
placed it on a footstool, since she was too high in the 
seneschal's chair. This foot was of narrow proportions, 
delicately curved, as broad as two fingers, and as long 
as a sparrow, tail included, small at the top — a true 
foot of delight, a virginal foot that merited a kiss as a 
robber does the gallows ; a roguish foot ; a foot wanton 
enough to damn an archangel ; an ominous foot ; a 
devilish enticing foot. The page was tempted to take 
the shoe from this persuasive foot. To accomplish this 
his eyes, glowing with the fire of his age, went swiftly 
like the clapper of a bell, from this said foot of delec- 
tation to the sleeping countenance of his lady and 
mistress, listening to her slumber, drinking in her res- 
piration again and again, and did not know where it 


would be sweetest to plant a kiss — whether on the 
ripe red lips of the seneschal's wife or on this speaking 
foot. At length from great respect or fear, or perhaps 
from great love, he chose the foot, and kissed it hastily, 
like a maiden who dares not. Then immediately he 
took up his book, feeling his red cheeks redder still, 
and exercised with his pleasure, he cried like a blind 
man — "Janua ccelt, gate of Heaven." But Blanche did 
not move. She was greatly disappointed when the 
litanies finished without any other mischief, and Rend, 
believing he had had enough happiness for one day, ran 
out of the room quite lively, richer from this hardy kiss 
than a robber who has robbed the poor-box. 

When the seneschal's lady was alone, she thought to 
herself that the page would be rather a long time at his 
task if he amused himself with singing of the Magnificat 
at matins. You can imagine that the page, burned by 
his desire and his imagination heated by the day before, 
awaited impatiently the hour to read in this breviary of 
gallantry, and was called ; and the conspiracy of the 
litanies commenced again, and Blanche did not fail to 
fall asleep. This time the said Ren6 fondled with his 
hand the pretty limb. At this sight the poor child, 
armed against his desire, so great was his fear, dared 
only make brief devotion and curt caresses, and although 
he kissed softly this fair surface, he remained bashful, 
the which, feeling by the senses of her soul and intelli- 
gence of her body, the seneschal's lady who took great 
care not to move, called out to him — "Ah, Ren6, I am 
asleep. " 

Hearing what he believed to be a stern reproach, the 
page, frightened, ran away, leaving the books, the task, 
and all. 

At dinner her page perspired all down his back while 



waiting on his lady and her lord; but he was very- 
much surprised when he received from Blanche the 
most shameless of all glances that ever woman cast, 
and very pleasant and powerful it was, seeing that it 
changed this child into a man of courage. Now, the 
same evening, Bruyn staying a little longer than was his 
custom in his own apartment, the page went in search 
of Blanche, and found her asleep, and made her dream 
a beautiful dream. 

He knocked off the chains that weighed so heavily 
upon her, and so plentifully bestowed upon her the 
sweets of love. So then the minx, siezing the page by 
the head and squeezing him to her, cried out — "Oh, 
Rene* ! thou has awakened me ! " 

And, in fact, there was no sleep could stand against 
it, and it is certain that saints must sleep very soundly. 
From this business, without other mystery, and by a 
benign faculty which is the assisting principle of 
spouses, the sweet and graceful plumage, suitable to 
cuckolds, was placed upon the head of the good hus- 
band without his experiencing the slightest shock. 

After this sweet repast, the seneschal's lady took 
kindly to her siesta after the French fashion, while 
Bruyn took his according to the Saracen. But by the 
said siesta she learned how the good youth of the page 
had a better taste than that of the old seneschal, and 
at night she buried herself in the sheets far away from 
her husband, whom she found strong and stale. 

You may be sure that Ren6 knew how to read, not 
only in books, but in the eyes of this sweet lady, for 
whom he would have leapt into a naming pile, had it 
been her wish he should do so. When well and amply, 
more than a hundred times, the train had been laid by 
them, the little lady became anxious about her soul and 


the future of her friend the page. Now one rainy day, 
as they were playing at touch-tag, like two children, 
innocent from head to foot, Blanche, who was always 
caught, said to him : 

"Come here, Ren6; do you know that while L have 
committed only venial sins because I was asleep, you 
have committed mortal ones?" 

"Ah, madame!" said he, "where, then, will God stow 
away all the damned if that is to sin?" 

Blanche burst out laughing and kissed his forehead. 

"My advice is, little one, that you go to the Abbot 
of Marmoustiers, confess your sins to him, asking him 
to see what had better be done concerning my 
seneschal. " 

"Alas," said the artful page, "if I tell the secret of 
our joys, he will put his interdict upon our love. " 

"Very likely," said she; "but thy happiness in the 
other world is a thing so precious to me." 

"Do you wish it, my darling?" 

"Yes," replied she rather faintly. 

"Well, I will go, but sleep again that I may bid thee 
adieu. " 

And the couple recited the litany of Farewells as if 
they had both foreseen that their love must finish in 
its April. And on the morrow, more to save his dear 
lady than to save himself, and also to obey her, Rene" 
de Jallanges set out towards the great monastery. 


"Good God" cried the abbot, when the page had 
chanted the Kyrie eleison of his sweet sins, "thou art 


the accomplice of a great felony, and thou hast betrayed 
thy lord. Dost thou know, page of darkness, that for 
this thou wilt burn through all eternity? and dost thou 
know what it is to lose forever the heaven above for a 
perishable and changeful moment here below? Unhappy 
wretch! I see thee precipitated forever in the gulfs of 
hell unless thou payest to God in this world that which 
thou owest him for such offence." 

Thereupon, the good old abbot, who was of that flesh 
of which saints are made, and who had great authority 
in the country of Touraine, terrified the young man by 
a heap of representations, christian discourses, remem- 
brances of the commandments of the church, and a 
thousand eloquent things — as many as a devil could say 
in six weeks to seduce a maiden—but so many that 
Rene, who was in the loyal fervor of innocence, made 
his submission to the good abbot. The. said abbot, 
wishing to make forever a good and virtuous man of 
this child, now in a fair way to be a wicked one, com- 
manded him first to go and prostrate himself before 
his lord, to confess his conduct to him, and then if he 
escaped from this confession, to depart instantly for the 
Crusades, and go straight to the Holy Land, where he 
should remain fifteen years of the time appointed to 
give battle to the infidels. 

"Alas! my reverend father," said he quite unmoved, 
"will fifteen years be enough to acquit me of so much 
pleasure? Ah ! if you but knew, I have had joy enough 
for a thousand years. " 

"God will be generous. Go," replied the old abbot, 
"and sin no more. On this account ego te absolve" 

Poor Rene* returned thereupon with great contrition 
to the castle of Roche-Corbon, and the first person he 
met was the seneschal, who was polishing up his arms 

Droll Stories— 5 


helmets, gauntlets and other things. He was sitting 
on a great marble bench in the open air, and was 
amusing himself by making shine again the splendid 
trappings which brought back to him the merry pranks 
of the Holy Land, the good jokes and the wenches, 
et cetera. When Rene* fell upon his knees before him, 
the good lord was much astonished. 

"What is it?" said he. 

"My lord," replied Ren£, "order these people to 
retire. " 

Which the servants having done, the page confessed 
his fault, recounted how he had assailed his lady in 
her sleep, and came by order of the confessor to put 
himself at the disposition of the offended person. 
Having said which, Rene* de Jallanges cast down his 
lovely eyes, which had produced all the mischief, and 
remained abashed, prostrate without fear, his arms 
hanging down, his head bare, awaiting his punishment 
and humbling himself to God. The seneschal was not 
so white that he could not become whiter, and now he 
blanched like linen newly dried, remaining dumb with 
passion. And this old man, found in this moment of 
fury more vigor than was necessary to undo a man. 
He seized with his hairy right hand his heavy club, 
lifted it, brandished it and adjusted it so easily that 
you could have thought it a bowl at a game of skittles, 
to bring it down upon the pale forehead of the said 
Ren£, who, knowing that he was greatly in fault 
towards his lord, remained placid, and stretching his 
neck, thought that he was about to expiate his sin for 
his sweetheart In this world and in the other. 

But his fair youth, and all the natural seductions of 
this sweet crime, found grace before the tribunal of the 
heart of this old man! although Bruyn was still severe, 


and throwing his club away on to a dog who was catch- 
ing beetles, he cried out, "May a thousand million 
claws tear, during all eternity, all the entrails of him 
who made him, who planted the oak that made the 
chair on which thou hast antlered me — and the same to 
those who engendered thee, cursed page of misfortune ! 
Get thee to the devil, whence thou earnest — go out from 
before me, from the castle, from the country, and stay 
not here one moment more than is necessary, otherwise 
I will surely prepare for thee a death by slow fire that 
shall make thee curse twenty times an hour thy villain- 
ous and ribald partner ! " 

Hearing the commencement of these little speeches 
of the seneschal, whose youth came back in his oaths, 
the page ran away, escaping the rest ; and he did well. 
Bruyn, burning with a fierce rage, gained the gardens 
speedily, reviling everything by the way, striking and 
swearing ; he even knocked over three large pans held 
by one of his servants, who was carrying the mess to the 
dogs, and he was so beside himself that he would have 
killed a laborer for a "thank you. " He soon perceived 
his unmaidenly maiden, who was looking towards the 
road to the monastery, waiting for the page, and una- 
ware that she would never see him again. 

"Ah, my lady ! by the deviPs red three-pronged fork, 
am I a swallower of tarrididdles and a child, to believe 
that you are so fashioned that a page can behave in this 
manner and you not know it? By the death! By the 
head ! By the blood ! " 

"Hold!" she replied, seeing that the mine was 
sprung, "I knew it well enough, but as you had not 
instructed me in these matters I thought I was dream- 
ing P 

The great ire of the seneschal melted like snow in 


the sun, for the direst anger of God himself would 
have vanished at a smile from Blanche. 

Thereupon she ran on with such a lot of arguments, 
hard words, complaints, quarrels, tears and other 
paternosters of women; such as — firstly, the estates 
would not have to be returned to the king; that never 
had a child been brought more innocently into the 
world ; that this, that that, that a thousand things ; 
until the good cuckold relented and Blanche, seizing a 
propitious interruption, said : 

"And where is the page?" 
- "Gone to the devil!" 

"What, have you killed him?" said she. She turned 
pale and tottered. 

Bruyn did not know what would become of him 
when he saw thus fall all the happiness of his old age, 
and he would to save her have shown her this page. 

He ordered him to be sought, but Rene* had run off 
at full speed, fearing he should be killed ; and departed 
for the lands beyond the seas, in order to accomplish 
his vow of religion.. When Blanche had learned from 
the above-mentioned abbot the penitence imposed 
upon her well beloved, she fell into a state of great 
melancholy, saying at times, "Where is he, the poor 
unfortunate, who is in the middle of great dangers for 
love of me?" 

And always kept on asking, like a child who gives its 
mother no rest until its request be granted it. At these 
lamentations the poor seneschal, feeling himself to 
blame, endeavored to do a thousand things, putting one 
out of the question, in order to make Blanche happy; 
but nothing was equal to the sweet caresses of the 
page. However, she had one day the child so much 
desired. You may be sure that was a fine festival for 


the good cuckold, for the resemblance to the father was 
distinctly engraved upon the face of this sweet fruit of 
love. Blanche consoled herself greatly, and picked up 
again a little of her old gaiety and flowers of inno- 
cence, which rejoiced the aged hours of the seneschal. 

From constantly seeing the little one run about, watch- 
ing its laughs answer those of the countess, he finished 
by loving it and would have been in a great rage with 
anyone who had not believed him its father. 

Now, as the adventure of Blanche and her page had 
not been carried beyond the castle, the virtue of Blanche 
remained intact, and by the quintessence of instruction 
drawn by her from the natural reservoir of women, she 
recognized how necessary it was to be silent concerning 
the venial sin with which her child was covered. So 
she became modest and good, and was cited as a 
virtuous person. And then, to make use of him, she 
experimented on the goodness of her good man, and 
without giving him leave to go farther than her chin, 
since she looked upon herself as belonging to Ren£, 
Blanche, in return for the flowers of age which Bruyn 
offered her coddled him, smiled upon him, kept him 
merry and fondled him with pretty ways and tricks 
which good wives bestow upon the husbands they 
deceive; and all so well that the seneschal did not 
wish to die, squatted comfortably in his chair and the 
more he lived the more he became partial to life. But 
to be brief, one night he died without knowing where 
he was going, for he said to Blanche, "Ho ! ho ! my 
dear, I see thee no longer! Is it night?" 

It was the death of the just, and he had well merited 
it as a reward for his labors in the Holy Land. 

Blanche held for this death a great and true mourn- 
ing, weeping for him as one weeps for one's father. 


She remained melancholy without wishing to lend her 
ear to the music of a second wedding, for which she 
was praised by all good people, who knew not that she 
had a husband in her heart, a life in hope ; but she 
was the greater part of her time widow in fact and widow 
in heart, because hearing no news of her lover at the 
Crusades, the poor countess reputed him dead, and 
during certain nights, seeing him wounded and lying 
at full length, she would wake up in tears. She lived 
thus for fourteen years in the remembrance of one day 
of happiness. Finally, one day, when she had with 
her certain ladies of Touraine, and they were talking 
together after dinner, behold her little boy, who was at 
that time about thirteen and a half, and resembled 
Ren6 more than it is allowable for a child to resemble 
his father, a madcap and pretty like his mother, who 
came in from the garden, running, perspiring, panting, 
jumping, scattering all things in his way, after the uses 
and customs of infancy, and who ran straight to his 
well-beloved mother, jumped into her lap and inter- 
rupting the conversation, cried out : 

"Oh, mother, I want to speak to you. I have seen 
in the courtyard a pilgrim, who squeezed me very 
tight. " 

"Ah!" cried the chatelaine, hurrying towards one 
of the servants who had charge of the young count 
and watched over his precious days, "I have forbidden 
you ever to leave my son in the hands of strangers, 
not even in those of the holiest man in the world. 
You quit my service. " 

"Alas! my lady," replied the old equerry, quite over- 
come, "this one wished him no harm, for he wept while 
kissing him passionately." 

"He wept?" said she; "ah! it's the father." 


Having said which, she leaned her head upon the 
chair in which she was sitting, and which you may be 
sure was the chair in which she had sinned. 

Hearing these strange words, the ladies were so sur- 
prised that at first they did not perceive that the sene- 
schal's widow was dead, without its ever being known 
if her sudden death was caused by her sorrow at the 
departure of her lover, who, faithful to his vow, did 
not wish to see her, or from great joy at his return and 
the hope of getting the interdict removed which the 
Abbot of Marmoustiers had placed upon their loves. 
And there was great mourning for her, for the Sire de 
Jallanges lost his spirits when he saw his lady laid in 
the ground, and became a monk of Marmoustiers, 
which at that time was called by some Maimoustier, 
as much as to say Mains Monasterzum, the largest 
monastery, and it was indeed the finest in all France. 





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There lived at this time, at the forges of the Pont-au- 
Change, a goldsmith whose daughter was talked about 
in Paris on account of her great beauty, and renowned 
above all things for her exceeding gracefulness. There 
were those who sought her favors by the usual tricks of 
love, but others offered large sums of money to the 
father to give them his daughter in lawful wedlock, the 
which pleased him not a little. 

One of his neighbors, a parliamentary advocate, who 
by selling his cunning devices to the public had acquired 
as many lands as a dog has fleas, took it into his head to 
offer the said father a domain in consideration of his 
consent to this marriage, which he ardently desired to 
undertake. To this arrangement our goldsmith was 
nothing loth. He bargained away his daughter, without 
taking into consideration the fact that her patched up 
old suitor had the features of an ape, and had scarcely a 
tooth in his jaws. The smell which emanated from his 
mouth did not, however, disturb his own nostrils, 
although he was filthy and high-flavored, as are all those 
who pass their lives amid the smoke of chimneys, yellow 
parchment, and other black proceedings. Immediately 


the sweet girl saw him she exclaimed, " Great Heaven! 
I would rather not have him." 

"That concerns me not/' said the father, who had 
taken a violent fancy to the proffered domain. " I give 
him to you for a husband. You must get on as well as 
you can together. That is his business now, and his 
duty is to make himself agreeable to you." 

"Is it so?" said she. "Well, then, before I obey 
your orders, I'll let him know what he may expect." 

And the same evening, after supper, when the love- 
sick man of law was pleading his cause, telling her he 
was mad for her, and promising her a life of ease and 
luxury, she, taking him up, quickly remarked : 

"My father has sold me to you, but if you take me, 
you will make a bad bargain; seeing that I would rather 
offer myself to the passer-by than to you. I promise 
you a disloyalty that shall only finish with death — yours 
or mine." 

Then she began to weep, like all young maidens will 
before they become experienced. The good advocate 
took this strange behavior for one of those artifices by 
which the women seek to fan the flames of love and turn 
the devotion of their admirers into the more tender 
caress and more daring osculation that speak a hus- 
band's right. So that the knave took little notice of it, 
but laughing at the complaints of the charming creature, 
asked her to fix the day. 

"To-morrow," replied she, "for the sooner this 
odious marriage takes place, the sooner I shall be free to 
have gallants and to lead the gay life of those who love 
where it pleases them." 

Thereupon this foolish fellow — as firmly fixed as a fly 
in a glue-pot — went away, made his preparations, spoke 
at the palace, ran to the high court, bought dispensa- 


tions, and conducted his purchase more quickly than he 
had ever done one before, thinking only of the lovely 
girl. Meanwhile, the king, who had just returned from 
a journey, heard nothing spoken of at court but the 
marvellous beauty of the jeweler's daughter who had 
refused a thousand crowns from this one, snubbed that 
one; in fact, would yield to no one offer but turned up her 
nose at the finest young men of the city, gentlemen who 
would have forfeited their seat in paradise to possess 
this little dragon of virtue. 

The good king, who was a judge of such game, strolled 
into the town, passed the forges, and entered the gold- 
smith's shop, for the purpose of buying jewels for the 
lady of his heart, but at the same time to bargain for the 
most precious jewel in the shop. The king not taking a 
fancy to the jewels, or they not being to his taste, the 
good man looked in a secret drawer for a big white 

"Sweetheart," said he to the daughter, while her 
father's nose was buried in the drawer, "sweetheart, you 
were not made to sell precious stones, and if you were to 
give me all the little rings in the place to choose from, I 
know one that many here are mad for — that pleases me, 
and whose price the whole kingdom of France could 
never pay." 

"Ah, sire! " replied the maid, "I shall be married to- 
morrow, but if you will lend me the dagger that is in 
your belt, I will defend my honor, and you shall take it, 
that the gospel may be observed wherein it says, ' Ren- 
der unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's.' " 

Immediately the king gave her the little dagger, and 
her brave reply rendered him so amorous that he lost his 
appetite. He had an apartment prepared, intending to 


lodge his new lady-love in the Rue a FHirundelle, in one 
of his palaces. 

And now behold my advocate, in a great hurry to get 
married, to the disgust of his rivals, leading his bride to 
the altar to the clang of bells and the sound of music. 
In the evening, after the ball, comes he into the nuptial 
chamber, where should be reposing his lovely bride. No 
longer is she a lovely bride, but a fury — a wild she-devil, 
who, seated in an arm-chair, refuses her share of her 
lord's couch, and sits defiantly before the fire, warming 
at the same time her ire and her calves. The good hus- 
band, quite astonished, kneels down gently before her, 
inviting her to the first passage of arms in that charming 
battle which heralds a first night of love; but she utters 
not a word, and when he tries to touch her garment she 
gives him a slap that makes his bones rattle, and refuses 
to utter a syllable. 

This amusement, however, by no means displeased our 
friend the advocate, who saw at the end of his troubles 
that which you can as well imagine as did he; so played 
he his share of the game manfully, taking cheerfully the 
punishment bestowed upon him. By so much hustling 
about, scuffling and struggling he managed at last to tear 
away a sleeve, and to slit a petticoat. This bold en- 
deavor brought madame to her feet, and drawing the 
king's dagger, " What would you with me?" she cried. 

"Everything," answered he. 

"Ha! I should be a great fool to give myself against 
my inclination! If you fancied you would find my virtue 
unarmed you made a great error. Behold the poniard 
of the king, with which I will kill you if you make the 
semblance of a step toward me." 

So saying, she took a cinder, and having still her eye 
upon her lord, she drew a circle on the floor, adding, 


"These are the confines of the king's domain. Beware 
how you pass them." 

The advocate, with whose ideas of love-making the 
dagger sadly interfered, stood quite discomfited, but at 
the same time he heard the cruel speech of his tormentor 
he caught sight through the slits and tears in her robe 
of such voluptuous specimens of hidden mysteries, et 
cetera, that death seemed sweet to him if he could only 
taste of them a little. So that he rushed within the do- 
main of the king, saying, "I mind not death." In fact 
he came with such force that his charmer fell backwards 
on the bed, but keeping her presence of mind she de- 
fended herself so gallantly that the advocate enjoyed no 
further advantage than a knock at the door that would 
not admit him, and he gained as well a little stab from 
the poniard, which did not wound him deeply, so that it 
did not cost him very dearly, his attack upon the realm 
of his sovereign. But maddened with this slight advan- 
tage, he cried, iC I cannotlive without the possession of 
your lovely body. Kill me, then! " 

And again he attacked the royal preserves. The young 
beauty, whose head was full of the king, was not even 
touched by this great love, and said gravely, "If you 
menace me further, it is not you but myself I will kill." 
She glared at him so savagely that the poor man was 
quite terrified, and commenced to deplore the evil hour 
in which he had taken her to wife, and thus the night 
which should have been so joyous was passed in tears, 
lamentations, prayers and ejaculations. In vain he 
tempted her with promises; she should eat out of gold, 
she should be a great lady, he would buy houses and 
lands for her. Oh! if she would only let him break one 
lance with her in the sweet conflict of love, he would 
leave her forever, and pass the remainder of his life ac- 


cording to her fantasy. But she, still unyielding, said 
she .would permit him to die, and that was the only thing 
he could do to please her. 

"I have not deceived you," said she. "Agreeable to 
my promise, I shall give myself to the king, making you 
a present of the ped*ars, chance passers, and street 
loungers with whom I threatened you." 

When the day broke she put on her wedding garments 
and waited patiently till the poor husband had to depart 
to his offices on clients' business, and then ran out into 
the town to seek the king. But she had not gone a bow- 
shot from the house before one of the king's servants, 
who had watched the house from dawn, stopped her with 
the question: 

" Do you not seek the king ? " 

(( Yes," said she. 

"Good! Then allow me to be your good friend," said 
the subtle courtier. " I ask your aid and protection, as 
now I give you mine." 

With that he told her what kind of man the king was, 
which was his weak side, that he was passionate one 
day and silent the next, that she would be luxuriously 
lodged and well kept, but that she must keep the king well 
in hand; in short, he chatted so pleasantly that the time 
passed quickly until she found herself in the Hotel del 
Hirundelle, where afterwards lived Madame d'Estampes* 
The poor husband shed scalding tears when he found 
his little bird had flown, and became melancholy and pen- 
sive. His friends and neighbors edified his ears with as 
many taunts and jeers as Saint Jacques had the honor of 
receiving in Compostella but the poor fellow took it so 
to heart, that at last they tried rather to assuage his grief. 
These artful compeers, by a species of legal chicanery, 
decreed that the good man was not a cuckold, seeing 


that his wife had refused a consummation, and if the 
planter of horns had been any one but the Icing, the said 
marriage might have been dissolved; but the amorous 
spouse was wretched unto death at my lady's trick. How- 
ever, he left her to the king, determining One day to hav§ 
her to himself. One must love well to love like that, eh? 
and there are many worldly ones, who mock at such af- 
fection. But he, still thinking of her, neglected his cases 
and his clients, his robberies and everything. He went 
to the palace like a miser searching for a lost sixpence* 
bowed down, melancholy and absent-minded, so much 
so ? that one day he relieved himself against the robe of 
a counsellor, believing all the while he stood against a 
walk Meanwhile, the beautiful girl was loved night and 
day by the king, who could not tear himself from her 
embraces, because in innocent play she was so excellent, 
knowing as well how to fan the flame of love as to extin- 
guish it — to-day snubbing him, to-morrow petting him, 
never the same, and. with it a thousand little tricks to 
charm an ardent lover. 

A lord of Bridore killed himself through her, because 
she would not receive his embraces, although he offered 
her his land, Bridore* in Touraine. Of these gallants of 
Touraine, who gave an estate for one tilt with love's lance, 
there are none left. This death made the fair one sad, 
and since her confessor laid the blame of it upon her, 
she determined for the future to accept all domains and 
secretly ease their owner's amorous pains for the better 
saving of their souls from perdition. 'Twas thus she 
commenced to build up that great fortune which made 
her a person of consideration in the town. By this means 
she prevented many gallant gentlemen from perishing, 
playing her game so well, and inventing such fine stories, 
that his majesty little guessed how much she aided him 


in securing the happiness of his subjects. The fact is, 
she had such a hold over him that she could have made 
him believe the floor was the ceiling, which was perhaps 
easier for him to think than any one else, seeing that at 
the Rue d'Hirundelle my lord king passed the greater 
portion of his time fondling her, always as though he 
would see if such a lovely article would wear away; but 
he wore himself out first, poor man, seeing that he 
eventually died from excess of love. Although she took 
care to grant her favors only to the best and noblest in 
the court, and that such occasions were rare as miracles, 
there were not wanting those among her enemies and rivals 
who declared that for 10,000 crowns a simple gentleman 
might taste the pleasures of his sovereign, which was 
false above all falseness, for when her lord taxed her with 
it, did she not reply, "Abominable wretches! curse the 
devils who put this idea in your head! I never yet did 
have man who spent less than 30,000 crowns upon me." 
The king, although vexed, could not repress a smile, 
and kept her on a month to silence scandal. At last, la 
demoiselle $e Pisseleu, anxious to obtain her place, 
brought about her ruin. Many would have liked to be 
ruined^in the same way, seeing she was taken by a young 
lord who was happy with her, the fires of love in her be- 
ing still unquenched. But to take up my thread again. 
One day that the king's sweetheart was passing through 
the town in her litter to buy laces, furs, velvets, broid- 
eries, and other ammunition, and so charmingly attired, 
and looking so lovely that any one, especially the clerks, 
would have believed the heavens were open above them, 
behold, her good man, who comes upon her near the old 
cross. She, at that time lazily swinging her charming 
little foot over the side of the litter, drew in her head as 
though she had seen an adder. She was a good wife, for 


I know some who would have proudly passed their hus- 
bands, to their shame and to the great disrespect of con- 
jugal rights. - <; 

"What is the matter?" asked one M. de Lannoy, who 
humbly accompanied her. 

" Nothing, " she whispered; "but that person is my 
husband. Poor man! how changed he looks. Formerly 
he was the picture of a monkey; to-day he is the very 
image of Job." 

The poor advocate stood open-mouthed. His heart 
beat wildly at the sight of that little foot — of that wife so 
wildly loved. 

Observing which, the Sire de Lannoy said to him with 
courtly insolence: 

"If 'you are her husband, is that any reason you should 
stop her passage?" 

At this she burst out laughing, and the good husband, 
instead of killing her bravely, shed scalding tears at that 
laugh which pierced his heart, his soul, his everything, 
so much that he nearly tumbled over an old citizen whom 
the sight of the king's sweetheart had driven against the 
wall. The aspect of this sweet flower, which had been 
his in the bud, but far from him had spread its lovely 
leaves; of the fairy figure, the voluptuous bust — all this 
made the poor advocate more wretched and more mad 
for her than it is possible to express in words. You must 
have been madly in love with a woman who refused your 
advances thoroughly to understand the agony of this un- 
happy man. Rare indeed is it to be so infatuated as was 
he. He passed the night saying, "Oh, yes; ah! Pll 
have her!" and "Curses, am I not her husband? " and 
"Devil take me," striking himself on the forehead and 
tossing about. There are chances and occasions which 
occur so opportunely in this world that little-minded men 


refuse them credence, saying they are supernatural, but 
men of high intellect know them to be true because they 
could not be invented. One of the chances came to the 
poor advocate, even the day after that terrible one which 
had been so sore a trial to him. One of his clients, a 
man of good renown, who had his audiences with the 
king, came one morning to the advocate, saying that he 
required immediately a large sum of money, about 12,000 
crowns. To which the artful fellow replied, 12,000 
crowns were not so often met at the corner of a street as 
that which often is seen at the corner of a street; that 
besides the sureties and guarantees of interest, it was 
necessary to find a man who had about him 12,000 
crowns, and that those gentlemen were not numerous in 
Paris, big city as it was, and various other things of a 
like character the man of cunning remarked. 

^ Is it true, my lord, that you have a hungry and re- 
lentless creditor ?" said he. 

"Yes, yes," replied the other, " it concerns the mis- 
tress of the king. Don't breathe a syllable; but this 
evening, in consideration of 20,000 crowns, and my do- 
main of Brie, I shall win her easily." 

Upon this the advocate blanched, and the courtier 
perceived he had touched a tender point. As he had 
only lately returned from the wars, he did not know that 
the lovely woman adored by the king had a husband. 

"You appear ill," he said. 

" I have a fever," replied the knave. 

"But is it to her that you give the contract and the 


"Who then manages the bargain, is it she also?" 

"No," said the noble; "her little arrangements are 
concluded through a servant of hers, the cleverest little 

Droll Stories— 6 


ladles' maid that ever was. She's sharper than mustard, 
and these nights stolen from the king have lined her 
pockets well." 

" I know a Lombard who could accommodate you. 
But nothing can be done; of the 12,000 crowns you 
shall not have a brass farthing if this same ladies' maid 
does not come here to take the price of the article that 
is so great an alchemist, that turns blood into gold, by 
heaven ! ' ' 

"It will be a good trick to make her sign the receipt," 
replied the lord, laughing. 

The servant came faithfully to the rendezvous with the 
advocate, who had begged the lord to bring her. The 
ducats looked bright and beautiful. There they lay, all 
in a row, like nuns going to vespers. Spread out upon 
the table they would have made a donkey smile, even if 
he were being gutted alive; so lovely, so splendid, were 
those brave noble young piles. The good advocate, 
however, had prepared this view for no ass, for the little 
handmaiden looked longingly at the golden heap, and 
muttered a prayer at the sight of them. Seeing which, 
the husband whispered in her ear these golden words, 
"These are for you." 

"Ah!" said she; "I have never been so well paid." 
"My dear," replied the dear man, "you shall have 
them without being troubled with me," and turning her 
around, "Your client has not told you who I am, eh? 
No ? Learn, then, I am the husband of the lady whom 
you serve. Carry her these crowns, and come back 
here, 1 will hand over yours to you on a condition 
which will be to your taste." 

The servant did as she was bidden, and being very 
curious to know how she could get 12,000 crowns, was 
very soon back again. 


a Now, my little one," said he, "here are 12,000 
crowns. With that sum I could buy lands, men, women, 
and the conscience of three priests at least; so that I be- 
lieve if I give it you I can have you, body, soul, and 
toe-nails. And I shall have faith in you like an advo- 
cate. I expect that you will go to the lord who expects 
to pass the night with my wife, and you will deceive him 
by telling him that the king is coming to supper with 
her, and that to-night he must seek his little amuse- 
ments elsewhere. By so doing I shall be able to take 
both his place and the king's." 

" But how ? " said she. 

"Oh!" replied ,he, "I have bought you, you and 
your tricks. You won't have to look at these crowns 
twice without finding me a way to have my wife. In 
bringing this conjunction about you commit no sin. It 
is a work of piety to bring together two people whose 
hands only have been put one into the other, and that 
by the priest." 

"By my faith, come," said she, "after supper the 
lights will be put out, and you can see madame if you 
remain silent. Luckily, on these joyful occasions she 
cries more than she speaks, and asks questions with her 
hands alone, for she is very modest, and does not like 
loose jokes like the ladies of the court." 

"Oh," cried the advocate, "look! Take the 12,000 
crowns, and I promise you twice as much more if I get 
by fraud that which belongs to me by right." 

Then he arranged the hour, the door, the signal, and 
all; and the servant went away, bearing with her on the 
back of the mules the golden treasure wrung by fraud 
and trickery from the widow and the orphan, and they 
were all going to that place where everything goes — save 
our lives, which come from it. Now behold my advo- 


cate, who shaves himself, scents himself, goes without 
onions for dinner that his breath may be sweet, and does 
everything to make himself as presentable as a gallant 
signor. He gives himself the airs of a young dandy, 
tries to be lithe and frisky and to disguise his ugly face; 
he might try all he knew, he always smelt of the musty 
lawyer. He was not so clever as the pretty washer- 
woman of Portillon, who one day wishing to appear at 
her best before one of her lovers, got rid of a disagree- 
able odor in a manner well known to young women of an 
inventive turn of mind. But our crafty fellow fancied 
himself the nicest man in the world, although in spite of 
his drugs and perfumes he was really the nastiest. He 
dressed himself in his thinnest clothes although the cold 
pinched him like a rope collar, and sallied forth, quickly 
gaining the Rue d'Hirundelle. There he had to wait 
some time. But just as he was beginning to think he 
had been made a fool of, and just as it was quite dark, 
the maid came down and opened the door to him, and 
the good husband slipped gleefully into the king's apart- 
ment. The girl locked him carefully into a cupboard 
that was close to his wife's bed, and through a crack he 
feasted his eyes upon her beauty, for she placed 
herself before the fire, and put on a thin night-gown, 
through which her charms were plainly visible. Be- 
lieving herself alone with her maid, she made those little 
jokes that women will when undressing. "Am I not 
very beautiful to-night? Am I overpaid with a castle 
in Brie ?" 

And saying this she gently placed her hand over 
her heart, which had well sustained many assaults, 
seeing it had been furiously attacked and had not 
softened. "My shoulders alone are worth a kingdom; 
no king could make their equal. But I am tired of this 


life. That which is hard work is no pleasure." The 
little maid smiled, and her lovely mistress said to her, 
" I should like to see you in my place/' Then the maid 
laughed outright, saying: 

"Be quiet, madame, he is there." 


"Your husband.'' 


"The real one." 

"Chut!" said madame. 

And her maid told her the whole story, wishing to 
keep her favor and the twelve thousand crowns as well. 

" Oh, well, we shall have his money's worth. If he sees 
me to-night may I lose my beauty and become as ugly 
as a monkey's baby! You remain here and thus gain 
the 12,000 crowns. Go and tell him that he must leave 
early in the morning in order that I may not find out 
your trick upon me, and just before dawn I will take 
your place." 

The poor husband was freezing and his teeth were 
chattering, and the chambermaid coming to the cup- 
board on pretence of getting some linen, said to him, 
"Your hour of bliss approaches. Madame to-night has 
made grand preparations and you will be well treated." 

At last, when the good husband was on the point of 
perishing with cold, the lights were put out. The maid 
cried softly in the curtains to the king's sweetheart, that 
his lordship was there, and retired, while her mistress 
went out as if she had been the chambermaid. The 
advocate, released from his cold hiding-place, rolled 
rapturously into the warm clothes, thinking to himself, 
"Oh! this is comfortable! " The good man thought of 
the difference between the profusion of royal houses and 
the niggardly ways of the citizens. The servant, laugh- 


ing, played her part marvellously well, regaling the 
knave with gentle cries, shiverings and convulsions. 
But before finishing, the lover, who wished to pre- 
serve a souvenir of this sweet night, by a dexterous turn 
plucked out one of his wife's hairs and kept in his hand 
this precious gage of the warm virtue of that lovely 
creature. Towards the morning, when the cock crew, 
the wife slipped in beside her husband, and pretended 
to sleep. Then the maid tapped gently on the happy 
man's forehead, whispering in his ear, "It is time; get 
into your clothes and off you go — it's daylight." 

" Oh! oh! " said he, proceeding to compare certain 
things, " I have got light hair, and this is dark." 

" What have you done? " said the servant; " Madame 
will see she has been duped." 
"But, look." 

" Ah! " said she, with an air of disdain, "do you not 
know, you who know everything, that that which is 
plucked dies and discolors?" and thereupon, roaring 
with laughter at the good joke, she pushed him out of 
doors. This became known. The poor advocate, 
named Feron, died of shame, seeing that he was the 
only one who had not his own wife; while she, who from 
this was called La Belle Feroniere, married, after leav- 
ing the king, a young lord, Count of Buzancois. 

This teaches us not to attach ourselves more than we 
can help to wives who refuse to support our yoke. 


There was once a good old canon of Notre Dame 
de Paris, who lived in a fine house of his own, near St. 
Pierre-aux-Bceufs, in the Parvis. This canon had 
come a simple priest to Paris, naked as a dagger with- 
out its sheath. But since he was found to be a hand- 
some man, well furnished with everything, and so well 
constituted, that if necessary he was able to do the 
work of many without doing himself much harm, he 
gave himself up earnestly to the confessing of ladies, 
giving to the melancholy a gentle absolution, to the 
sick a drachm of his balm, to all some little dainty. He 
was so well known for his discretion, his benevolence, 
and other ecclesiastical qualities, that he had customers 
at court. Then in order not to awaken the jealousy of 
the officials, that of the husbands and others, in short, 
to endow with sanctity these good and profitable 
practices, the Lady Desquerdes gave him a bone of St. 
Victor, by virtue of which all the miracles were per- 
formed. And to the curious it was said, "He has a 
bone which will cure everything;" and to this no one 
found anything to reply, because it was not seemly to 
suspect relics. Beneath the shade of his cassock, the 
good priest had the best of reputations, that of a man 


valiant under arms. So lived he like a king. He 
made money with holy water ; sprinkled and transmit- 
ted the holy water into good wine. More than that, 
his name lay snugly in all the et ceteras of the notaries, 
in wills or in caudicils, which certain people have 
falsely written codicil, seeing that the word is derived 
from cauda, as if to say the tail of the legacy. In fact, 
the good old Long Skirts would have been made an 
archbishop if he had only said in joke, "I should like 
to put on a mitre for a head-kerchief in order to have 
my head warmer. " Of all the benefices offered to him, 
he chose only a simple canon's stall, to keep the good 
profits of the confessional. But one day the coura- 
geous canon found himself weak seeing that he was all 
sixty-eight years old, and had held many confessionals. 
Then thinking over all his good works, he thought 
it about time to cease his apostolic labors, the more so, 
as he possessed about one hundred thousand crowns 
earned by very hard labor. From that day he 
only confessed ladies of high lineage. So it was said 
at court that in spite of the efforts of the best young 
clerks there was still no one but the Canon of St. 
Pierre-aux-Bceufs to properly bleach the soul of a lady 
of condition. Then at length the canon became by force 
of nature a fine monagenarian, snowy about the head, 
with trembling hands, but square as a tower, no longer 
rising from his chair he had so often risen for human- 
ity ; but drinking dry, eating heartily, saying nothing, 
but having all the appearance of a living Canon of 
Notre Dame. Seeing the immobility of the aforesaid 
canon ; seeing the stories of his evil life which for some 
time had circulated among the common people, always 
ignorant ; seeing his dumb seclusion, his flourishing 
health, his young old age and other things too numerous 


to mention — there were certain people who to do the 
marvellous and injure our holy religion, went about 
saying that the true canon was long since dead, and 
that for more than fifty years the devil had taken pos- 
session of the old priest's body. In fact, it seemed to 
his former customers that the devil only could by his 
great heat have furnished those hermetic distillations, 
that they remembered to have obtained on demand 
from this good confessor, who always had le diable au 
corps. But as this devil has undoubtedly been cooked 
and ruined by them, and that for a queen of twenty 
years he would have moved, well-disposed people 
and those not wanting in sense, or the citizens who 
argued about everything, people who found lice in bald 
heads, demanded why the devil rested under the form 
of a canon, went to the church of Notre Dame at the 
hours when the canons usually go, and ventured so far 
as to sniff the perfume of the incense, taste the holy 
water, and a thousand other things. To these heretical 
propositions some said that doubtless the devil wished 
to convert himself, and others that he remained in the 
shape of the canon to mock at the three nephews and 
heirs of this said brave confessor and make them wait 
until the day of their own death for the ample succession 
of this uncle, to whom they paid great attention every 
day, going to look if the good man had his eyes open, 
and in fact found him always with his eye clear, bright 
and piercing as the eye of a basilisk, which pleased 
them greatly, since they loved their uncle very much — 
in words. On this subject an old woman related that 
for certain the canon was the devil, because his two 
nephews, the procureur and the captain, conducting 
their uncle at night, without lamp or lantern, returning 
from a supper at the penitentiary's, had caused him by 


accident to tumble over a heap of stones gathered 
together to raise the statue of St. Christopher. At first 
the old man had struck fire in falling, but was, amid 
the cries of his dear nephews and by the light of the 
torches they came to seek at her house, found standing 
up as straight as a skittle and as gay as a weaving 
whirl, exclaiming that the good wine of the penitentiary 
had given him the courage to sustain this shock and 
that his bones were exceedingly hard and had sustained 
rude assaults. The good nephews, believing him dead, 
were much astonished, and perceived that the day that 
was to dispatch their uncle was a long way off, seeing 
that at the business stones were of no use. So that 
they did not falsely call him their good uncle, seeing 
that he was of good quality. Certain scandal-mongers 
said that the canon found so many stones in his path 
that he stayed at home not to be ill with the stone, 
and the fear of worse was the cause of his seclusion. 

Of all these sayings and rumors, it remains that the 
old canon, devil or not, kept his house, refused to die, 
and had three heirs with whom he lived as with his 
sciaticas, lumbagos, and other appendage of human life. 

Of the said three heirs, one was the wickedest soldier 
ever born of a woman. In great battles, he endeavored 
always to give blows without receiving them, which is, 
and always will be, the only problem to solve in war, 
but he never spared himself there, and, in fact, as he 
had no other virtue except his bravery, he was captain 
of a company of lancers, and much esteemed by the 
Duke of .Bourgoyne, who never troubled what his 
soldiers did elsewhere. This nephew of the devil was 
named Captain Cochegrue ; and his creditors, the block- 
heads, citizens, and others, whose pockets he slit, called 
him the Mau-cinge, since he was as mischievous as 


strong ; but he had moreover his back spoilt by the 
natural infirmity of a hump, and it • would have been 
unwise to attempt to mount thereon to get a good view, 
for he would incontestably have run you through. 

The second had studied the laws, and through the 
favor of his uncle had become a procureur, and prac- 
ticed at the palace, where formerly the canon had the 
best confessed. This one was called Pille-grue, to 
banter him upon his real name, which was Cochegrue, 
like that of his brother the captain. Pille-grue had a 
lean body, was pale of face, and possessed a physiog- 
nomy like a pole-cat. 

This notwithstanding, he was worth many a penny 
more than the captain, and had for his uncle a little 
affection, but since about two years his heart had 
cracked a little, and drop by drop his gratitude had run 
out, in such a way that, from time to time when the 
air was damp, he liked to put his feet into his uncle's 
hose, and press in advance the juice of this good inheri- 
tance. He and his brother, the soldier, found their 
share very small, since loyally, in law, in fact, in justice, 
in nature and in reality, it was necessary to give the 
third part of everything to a poor cousin, son of another 
sister of the canon, the which heir, but little loved by 
the good man, remained in the country, where he was 
a shepherd, near Nanterre. 

This guardian of beasts, an ordinary peasant, came 
to town by the advice of his two cousins, who placed 
him in their uncle's house, in the hope that, as much 
by his silly tricks as his clumsiness, his want of brain, 
and his ignorance, he would be displeasing to the 
canon, who would kick him out of his will. Now this 
poor Chiquon, as the shepherd was named, had lived 
about a month alone with his old uncle, and finding 


more profit or more amusement in minding an abbot 
than looking after sheep, made himself the canon's 
dog, his servant, the staff of his old age, saying, "God 
save you, " when he sneezed, and "God guard you," 
when he belched ; going to see if it rained, where the 
cat was, remaining silent, listening, speaking, receiving 
the coughs of the old man in his face, admiring him as 
the finest canon there ever was in the world, all heartily 
and in good faith,, knowing that he was licking him 
after the manner of animals who clean their young 
ones ; and the uncle, who stood in no need of learning 
which side the bread was buttered, repulsed poor 
Chiquon, making him turn about like a die, always 
calling Chiquon, and always saying to his other 
nephews that this Chiquon was helping to kill him, 
such a numskull was he. Thereupon hearing this, 
Chiquon determined to do well by his uncle, and 
puzzled his understanding to appear better ; but as he 
was broad shouldered, large limbed, and far from 
sharp, he more resembled old Silenus than a gentle 
Zephyr. In fact, the poor shepherd, a simple man, 
could not reform himself, so he remained big and fat, 
awaiting his inheritance to make himself thin. 

One evening the canon began discoursing concerning 
the devil and the grave agonies, penances, tortures, 
etc., which God will get warm for the accursed, and 
the good Chiquon, hearing it, began to open his eyes 
as wide as the door of an oven, at this statement, with 
out believing a word of it. 

"What," said the canon, "are you not a christian?" 

"In that, yes," answered Chiquon. 

"Well, there is a paradise for the good ; is it not 
necessary to have a hell for the wicked?" 

"Yes, Mr. Canon, but the devil's of no use. If you 


had here a wicked man who turned everything upside 
down, would you not kick him out of doors?" 

"Yes, Chiquon." 

"Oh, well, mine uncle; God would be very stupid 
to leave in this world, which he has so curiously con- 
structed, an abominable devil whose special business it 
is to spoil everything for him. Pish ! I recognize no 
devil if there be a good God ; you may depend upon 
that. I should very much like to see the devil. Ha ! 
ha ! I am not afraid of his claws ! " 

"And if I were of your opinion, I should have no care 
of my very youthful years in which I held confessions 
at least ten times a day." 

"Confess again, Mr. Canon. I assure you that will 
be a precious merit on high. " 

"There, there! do you mean it?" 

"Yes, Mr. Canon." 

"Thou dost not tremble, Chiquon, to deny the devil?" 

"I trouble no more about it than a sheaf of corn." 

"The doctrine will bring misfortune upon you." 

"By no means. God will defend me from the devil 
because I believe him more learned and less stupid 
than the savans make him out. " 

Thereupon the other two nephews entered, and 
perceiving from the voice of the canon that he did not 
dislike Chiquon very much, and that the jeremiads 
which he made concerning him were simply tricks to 
disguise the affection which he bore him, looked at each 
other in great astonishment. 

Then seeing their uncle laughing, they said to him : 

"If you make a will, to whom will you leave the 

"To Chiquon. M 

"And the quit-rent of the Rue St. Denys?" 


"To Chiquon. 

"And the fief of Ville Parisis?" 

"To Chiquon. " 

"But," said the captain with his big voice, "every- 
thing then will be Chiquon's. " 

"No," replied the canon, smiling, "because I shall 
have made my will in proper form, the inheritance 
will be to the sharpest of you three; I am so near to 
the future, that I can therein see clearly your destinies. " 

And the wily canon cast upon Chiquon a glance full 
of malice, like a decoy-bird would have thrown upon a 
little one to draw him into her net. The fire of this 
flaming eye enlightened the shepherd, who from that 
moment had his understanding and his ears all unfogged 
and his brain open, like that of a maiden the day after 
her marriage. The procureur and the captain, taking 
these sayings for gospel prophecies, made their bow, 
and went out from the house, quite perplexed at the 
absurd designs of the canon. 

"What do you think of Chiquon?" said Pille-grue to 

"I think, I think," said the soldier, growling, "that I 
think of hiding myself in the Rue d'Hierusalem, to put 
his head below his feet ; he can pick it up again if he 
likes. " 

"Oh! oh!" said the procureur, "you have a way of 
wounding that is easily recognized, and the people 
would say, 'It's Cochegrue/ As for me, I thought to 
invite him to dinner, after which, we would play at 
putting ourselves in a sack in order to see as they do 
at court who could walk best thus attired. Then 
having sewn him up we could throw him into the 
Seine at the same time begging him to swim. " 

"This must be well matured," replied the soldier* 


"Oh ! it's quite ripe, " said the advocate. "The cousin 
gone to the devil the heritage would then ' be between 
us two." 

"I'm quite agreeable," said the fighter, "but we must 
stick as close together as the two legs of the same 
body for if you are fine as silk, I am strong as steel 
and daggers are always as good as traps — you hear that, 
my good brother. " 

"Yes, " said the advocate, "the cause is heard — now 
shall it be the thread or the iron?" 

"Eh? ventre de Dieu ! is it then a king that we are 
going to settle? For a simple numskull of a shepherd 
are so many words necessary? Come! 20,000 francs 
out of the heritage to the one of us who shall first cut 
him off. I'll say to him in good faith, Tick up your 

"And I, 'Swim my friend/ " cried the advocate laugh- 
ing like the gap of a pourpoint. 

And then they went to supper, the captain to his 
wench, and the advocate to the house of a jeweler's 

Who was astonished ? Chiquon ! The poor shepherd 
heard the planning of his death, although his two 
cousins had walked in the parvis, and talked to each 
other as everyone speaks at church when praying to 
God. So that Chiquon was much troubled to know if 
the words had come up or if his ears had gone down. 

"Do you hear, Mister Canon?" 

"Yes," said he, "I hear the wood crackling in the 
fire. " 

"Ho! ho!" replied Chiquon, "if I don't believe in 
the devil, I believe in St. Michael, my guardian angel ; 
I go there where he calls me." 

"Go, my child," said the canon, "and take care not 


to wet yourself, nor to get your head knocked off, for 
I think I hear more rain, and the beggars in the street 
are not always the most dangerous beggars. " 

At these words Chiquon was much astonished, and 
stared at the canon ; found his manner gay, his eye 
sharp, and his feet crooked; but as he had to arrange 
matters concerning the death which menaced him, he 
thought to himself that he would always have leisure to 
admire the canon, or to cut his nails; and he trotted 
off quickly through, the town, as a little woman trots 
towards her pleasure. 

His two cousins, having no presumption of the divin- 
atory science, of which shepherds have had many pass- 
ing attacks, had often talked before him of their secret 
goings on, counting him as nothing. 

Now, one evening, to amuse the canon, Pille-grue 
had recounted to him how had fallen in love with him 
the wife of a jeweler on whose head he had adjusted 
certain carved, burnished, sculptured, historical horns, 
fit for the brow of a prince. The good lady was, to hear 
him, a right merry wench, quick at opportunities, 
giving an embrace while her husband was mounting the 
stairs, devouring the commodity as if she were swallow- 
ing a strawberry, only thinking of love-making, always 
trifling and frisky, gay as an honest woman who lacks 
nothing, contenting her husband, who cherished her as 
much as he loved his own gullet ; subtle as a perfume, 
so much so, that for five years she managed so well his 
household affairs, and her own love affairs, that she had 
the reputation of a prudent woman, the confidence of 
her husband, the keys of the house, the purse and all. 

"And when do you play upon this gentle flute?" 
said the canon. 

"Every evening, and sometimes I stay all the night/' 


er But how?" said the canon, astonished. 
"This is how. There is a room close to a chest 
into which I get. When the good husband returns 
from his friend the draper's, where he goes to supper 
every evening, because often he helps the draper's wife 
in her work, my mistress pleads a slight illness, lets 
him go to bed alone, and comes to doctor her malady 
in the room where the chest is. On the morrow, when 
my jeweler is at his forge, I depart, and as the house 
has one exit on to the bridge, and another into the 
street, I always come to the door where the husband 
is not, on the pretext of speaking to him of his suits, 
which commence joyfully and heartily, and I never let 
them come to an end. It is an income from cuckoldom, 
seeing that in the minor expenses and loyal costs of 
the proceedings, he spends as much as on the horses 
in his stable. He loves me well, as all good cuckolds 
should love the man who aids them to plant, cultivate, 
water and dig the natural garden of Venus, and he 
does nothing without me. " 

Now these practices came back again tO the memory 
of the shepherd, who was illuminated by the light 
issuing from his danger, and counselled by the intelli- 
gence of those measures of self-preservation, of which 
every animal possesses a sufficient dose to go to the 
end of his ball of life. So Chiquon gained with hasty 
feet the Rue de la Calandre, where the jeweler should 
then be supping with his companion, and after having 
knocked at the door, replied to the question put to 
him through the little grill, that he was a messenger 
on state secrets, and was admitted to the draper's 
house. Now, coming straight to the fact, he made the 
happy jeweler get up from the table, led him into a 
corner, and said to him, "If one of your neighbors had 

Droll Stories—? 


planted a horn on your forehead, and he were delivered 
to you, bound hand and foot, would you throw him into 
the river?" 

"Rather," said the jeweler, "but if you are mocking 
me, Pll give you a good drubbing." 

"There, there!" replied Chiquon, "I am one of your 
friends, and come to warn you that as many times as 
you have conversed with the draper's wife here, as often 
has your good wife been served the same way by the 
advocate Pille-grue, and if you will come back to your 
forge, you'll find a good fire there. On your arrival, 
Pille-grue gets into a big clothes-chest. Now make a 
pretence that I have bought the said chest of you, and 
I will be upon the bridge with a cart, waiting your 
orders. " 

The said jeweler took his cloak and his hat, and parted 
company with his crony without saying a word, and ran 
to his hole like a poisoned rat. He arrives and knocks, 
the door is opened, he runs hastily up the stairs, finds 
two covers laid, sees his wife coming out of the chamber 
of love, and then says to her, "My dear, here are two 
covers laid." 

"Well, my darling, are we not two?" 

"No," said he, "we are three." 

"Is your friend coming?" said she, looking towards 
the stairs with perfect innocence. 

"No, I speak of the friend who is in the chest. " 

"What chest?" said she. "Are you in your sound 
'senses? where do you see a chest? is it usual to put 
friends in chests? am I a woman to keep chests full of 
friends? how long have friends been kept in chests? 
are you come home mad to mix up your friends with 
your chests? I know no other friend than Master Cor- 


nille the draper, and no other chest than the one with 
our clothes in." 

"Oh!" said the jeweler, "my good woman, there is 
a bad young man, who has come to warn me that you 
allow yourself to be embraced by our advocate, and 
that he is in the chest. " 

"I !" said she, "I would not put up with his knavery, 
he does everything the wrong way." 

"There, there, my dear," replied the jeweler, "I 
know you to be a good woman, and won't have a 
squabble with you about this paltry chest. The giver 
of the warning is a boxmaker, to whom I am about 
to sell this cursed chest that I wish never again to see 
in my house, and for this one he will sell me two 
pretty little ones, in which there will not be space 
enough even for a child ; thus the scandal and the 
babble of those, envious of thy virtue, will be extin- 
guished for want of nourishment. " 

"You give me great pleasure," said she; "I dom 
attach any value to my chest, and by chance there it 
nothing in it. Our linen is at the wash. It will be 
easy to have the mischievous chest taken away to-more 
row morning. Will you sup?" 

"Not at all," said he; "I shall sup with a better 
appetite without this chest. " 

"I see," said she, "that you won't easily get the 
chest out of your head. " 

"Halloa there!" said the jeweler to his smiths and 
apprentices; "comedown!" 

In the twinkling of an eye his people were before 
him. Then he, their master, having briefly ordered 
the handling of the said chest, this piece of furniture 
dedicated to love was suddenly tumbled across the 
rocm, but in passing, the advocate, finding his feet in 


the air, to the which he was not accustomed, tumbled 
over a little. 

"Go on," said the wife, "go on, it's the lid shaking, " 

"No, my dear, it's the bolt." 

And without any other opposition the chest slid 
gently down the stairs. 

"Ho, there, carrier!" said the jeweler, and Chiquon 
came whistling his mules, and the good apprentices 
lifted the litigious chest into the cart. 

" Hi! hi ! " said the advocate. 

"Master, the chest is speaking, " said an apprentice. 

" In what language ? " said the jeweler, giving him a 
good kick between his shoulders that luckily were not 
made of glass. The apprentice tumbled over on to a 
stair in a way that induced him to discontinue his studies 
in the language of chests. The shepherd, accompanied 
by the good jeweler, carried all the baggage to the water- 
side without listening to the high eloquence of the speak- 
ing wood, and having tied several stones to it, the jeweler 
threw it into the Seine. 

"Swim, my friend" cried the shepherd, in a voice suf- 
ficiently jeering at the moment when the chest turned 
over, giving a pretty little plunge like a duck. 

Then Chiquon continued to proceed along the quay, 
as far as the Rue-du-port, St. Laudry, near the cloisters 
of Notre Dame. There he noticed a house, recognized 
the door, and knocked loudly. 

"Open," said he, " open by order of the king." 

Hearing this, an old man, who was no other than the 
famous Lombard, Versoris, ran to the door. 

"What is it ? " said he. 

" I am sent by the provost to warn yon to keep good 
watch to-night," replied Chiquon; "as for his own part 
he will keep his archers ready. The hunchback who has 


robbed you has come back again. Keep under arms, for 
he is quite capable of easing you of the rest." 

Having said this, the good shepherd took to his heels 
and ran to the Rue des Marmouzets, to the house where 
Captain Cochegrue was feasting with La Pasquerette, 
the prettiest of town girls, and the most charming in per- 
versity that ever was; according to all the gay ladies, 
her glance was sharp and piercing as the stab of a dag- 
ger. Her appearance was so tickling to the sight, that it 
would have put all paradise to rout. Besides which she 
was as bold as a woman who has no other virtue than 
her insolence. Poor Chiquon was greatly embarrassed 
while going to the quarter of the Marmouzets. He was 
greatly afraid that he would be unable to find the house 
of La Pasquerette, or find the two pigeons gone to roost, 
but a good angel arranged things speedily to his satisfac- 
tion. This is how: On entering the Rue des Marmou- 
zets, he saw several lights at the windows, and night- 
capped heads thrust out, and good wenches, gay girls, 
housewives, husbands, and young ladies, all of them just 
out of bed, looking at each other as if a robber were be- 
ing led to execution by torchlight. 

"What's the matter?" said the shepherd to a citizen 
who in great haste had rushed to the door with a cham- 
ber utensil in his hand. 

1 c Oh ! it's nothing, " replied the good man. < 'We thought 
it was the Armagnacs descending upon the town, but it's 
only Mau-cinge beating La Pasquerette.'' 

"Where!" asked the shepherd. 

"Below there, at that fine house where the pillars have 
the mouths of flying frogs delicately engraved upon them. 
Do you hear the varlets and the serving-maids ?" 

And in fact there was nothing but cries of "Murder! 
Help! Come, some one!" and in the house blows were 


raining down and the Mau-cinge said with his gruff voice, 
"Death to the wench! Ah, you sing out now, do you? 
Ah, you want money now, do you? Take that " 

And La Pasquerette was groaning, "Oh! oh! I die! 
Help! help! oh! oh!" Then came the blow of the sword, 
then the heavy fall of the light body of the fair girl 
sounded, and was followed by a great silence, after which 
the lights were put out, servants, waiting-women, roy- 
sterers, . and others went in again, and the shepherd, who 
had come opportunely, mounted the stairs in company 
with them but on beholding in the room above broken 
glasses, slit carpets, and the cloth on the floor with the 
dishes, every one remained at a distance. 

The shepherd, bold as a man with but one end in view, 
opened the door of the handsome chamber where slept 
La Pasquerette, and found her quite exhausted, her hair 
dishevelled, and her neck twisted, lying upon a bloody 
carpet, and Mau-cinge frightened, with his tone consid- 
erably lower, and not knowing upon what note to sing 
the remainder of his anthem. 

"Come, my little Pasquerette, don't pretend to be 
dead. Come, let me put you tidy. Ah ! little minx, 
dead or alive, you look so pretty in your blood I'm go- 
ing to kiss you." Having said which the cunning soldier 
took her and threw her upon the bed, but she fell there 
all of a heap, and stiff as the body of a man that had 
been hanged. Seeing which her companion found it 
was time for his hump to retire from the game; however, 
the artful fellow before slinking away said, ' ' Poor Pas- 
querette, how could I murder so good a girl, and one I 
loved so much ? But yes, I have killed her, the thing 
is clear, for in her life never did her sweet tresses hang 
down like that. Good God, one would say it was a 
crown at the bottom of a wallet." Whereupon La Pas- 


querette opened her eyes and bent her head slightly to 
look at her flesh, which was white and firm, and she 
brought herself to life again by a box on the ears, ad- 
ministered to the captain. 

"That will teach you to beware of the dead," said she 

"And why did he kill you, my cousin ? " asked the 

"Why? to-morrow the bailiffs seize everything that's 
here, and he, who has no more money than virtue, re- 
proached me because I wished to be agreeable to a hand- 
some gentleman, who would save me from the hands of 

" Pasquerette, I'll break every bone in your skin." 

"There ! there !" said Chiquon, whom the Mau-cinge 
had just recognized, "is that all? Oh, well, my good 
friend, I bring you a large sum." 

"Where from ?" asked the captain astonished. 

"Come here, and let me whisper in your ear — if 
30,000 crowns were walking about at night under the 
shadow of a pear tree, would you not stoop down to 
pluck them, to prevent them spoiling ? " 

" Chiquon, I'll kill you like a dog if you are making 
game of me, or I will kiss you there where you like it, if 
you will put me opposite 30,000 crowns, even when it 
shall be necessary to kill three citizens at the corner of 
the Quay." 

"You will not even kill one. This is how the matter 
stands. I have for a sweetheart in all loyalty, the ser- 
vant of the Lombard who is in the city near the house of 
our good uncle. Now I have just learned on sound in- 
formation that this dear man has departed this morning 
into the country, after having hidden under a pear tree 
in his garden a good bushel of gold, believing himself to 


be seen only by the angels. But the girl, who had by 
chance a bad toothache, and was taking the air at her 
garret window, spied the old crookshanks, without wish- 
ing to do so, and chattered of it to me in fondness. If 
you will swear to give me a good share I will lend you 
my shoulders in order that you may climb on to the top 
of the wall, and from there throw yourself into the pear 
tree which is against the wall. There, now do you say 
that I am a blockhead, an animal?" 

"No, you are a right loyal cousin, an honest man, 
and if you have ever to put an enemy out of the way, I 
am there, ready to kill even one ot my own friends for 
you. I am no longer your cousin, but your brother. Ho, 
there, sweetheart," cried Mau-cinge to La Pasquerette, 
"put the tables straight, wipe up your blood, it belongs to 
me and I'll pay you for it by giving you a hundred times 
as much of mine as I have taken of thine. Make the best 
of it, shake the black dog off your back, adjust your 
petticoats, laugh, I wish it, look to the stew, and let us 
recommence our evening prayer where we left it off. To- 
morrow I will make you braver than a queen. This 
is my cousin whom I wish to entertain, even when to do 
it were necessary to turn the house out of windows. We 
shall get back everything to-morrow in the cellars. 
Come, fall to." 

Thus, and in less time than it takes a priest to say his 
Dominus vobiscum, the whole rookery passed from tears 
to laughter, as it had previously passed from laughter 
to tears. 

The said Captain Cochegrue was gay as a hundred 
school boys at the breaking up of class, and made his 
good cousin drink deeply, who swilled everything coun- 
try fashion, and pretended to be drunk, spluttering out 
a hundred stupidities, as, that "to-morrow he would buy 


Paris, would lend a hundred thousand crowns to the 
king, that he would be able to roll in gold," in fact, 
talked so much nonsense that the captain, fearing some 
compromising avowal and thinking his brain quite mud- 
dled enough, led him outside with the good inten- 
tion, instead of sharing with him, of ripping Chiquon 
open to see if he had not a sponge in his stom- 
ach, because he had just soaked in a big quart of the 
good wine of Suresne. They went along, disputing 
about a thousand theological subjects, which got very 
much mixed up, and finished by rolling quietly up 
against the garden where were the crowns of the Lom- 
bard. Then Cochegrue, making a ladder of Chiquon's 
broad shoulders, jumped on to the pear tree like a man 
expert in attacks upon towns, but Versoris, who was 
watching him, made a blow at his neck, and repeated it 
so vigorously that with three blows fell the upper por- 
tion of the said Cochegrue, but not until he had heard 
the clear voice of the shepherd, who cried to him, "Pick 
up your head, my friend." Thereupon the generous 
Chiquon, in whom virtue received its recompense, 
thought it would be wise to return to the house of the 
good canon, whose heritage was by the grace of God 
considerably simplified. Thus he gained the Rue St. 
Pierre-aux-Bceufs with all speed, and soon slept like a 
new-born baby, no longer knowing the meaning of the 
word "cousin-german." Now on the morrow he rose, 
according to the habit oh shepherds, with the sun, and 
came into his uncle's room to inquire if he spat white, if 
he coughed, if he had slept well; but the old servant 
told him that the canon, hearing the bells of St. Maurice, 
the first patron of Notre Dame, ring for matins, he had 
gone out of reverence to the cathedral, where all the 
Chapter were to breakfast with the Bishop of Paris.; 


upon which Chiquon replied, " Is his reverence the 
canon out of his senses thus to disport himself, to catch 
a cold, to get rheumatism? does he wish to die? I'll 
light a big fire to warm him when he returns; " and the 
good shepherd ran into the room where the canon gen 
erally.sat, and to his astonishment beheld him seated in 
his chair. 

"Ah! ah! What did she mean, that fool of a Buyrette? 
I knew you were too well advised to be shivering at this 
hour in your stall." 

The canon said not a word. The shepherd, who was, 
like all thinkers, a man of hidden sense, was quite aware 
that sometimes old men have strange crotchets, con 
verse with the essence of occult things, and mumble to 
themselves discourses concerning matters not under con- 
sideration; so that, from reverence and great respect for 
the secret meditations of the canon, he went and sat 
down at a distance, and waited the termination of these 
dreams; noticing silently the length of the good man's 
nails, which looked like cobblers' awls, and looking 
attentively at the feet of his uncle, he was astonished to 
see the flesh of his legs so crimson, that it reddened his 
breeches and seemed all on fire through his hose. 

" He is dead," thought Chiquon. At this moment the 
door of the room opened, and he still saw the canon, who. 
his nose frozen, came back from church. 

"Ho! ho!" said Chiquon, "my dear uncle, are you 
out of your senses? Kindly take notice that you ought 
not to be at the door, because you are already seated in 
your chair in the chimney-corner, and that it is impossi- 
ble for there to be two canons like you in the world. " 

"Ah! Chiquon, there was a time when I could have 
wished to be in two places at once, but such is not the 


fate of man, he would be too happy. Are you getting 
dim-sighted? I am alone here." 

Then Chiquon turned his head towards the chair, and 
found it empty; and much astonished, as you will easily 
believe, he approached it, and found on the seat a little 
pat of cinders, from which ascended a strong odor of 

"Ah!" said he merrily, "I perceive that the devil 
has behaved well towards me — I will pray God for 

And thereupon he related naively to the canon how 
the devil had amused himself by playing at providence, 
and had loyally aided him to get rid of his wicked 
cousins, the which the canon admired much, and 
thought very good, seeing that he had plenty of good 
sense left, and often had observed things which were to 
the devil's advantage. So the good old priest remarked 
that as much good was always met with in evil as evil in 
good, and that therefore one should not trouble too 
much after the other world, the which was a grave 
heresy, which many councils have put right. 

And this was how the Chiquons became rich, and 
were able in these times, by the fortunes of their ances- 
tors, to help to build the bridge of St. Michael, where 
the devil cuts a very good figure under the angel, in 
memory of this adventure now consigned to these vera- 
cious histories. 


King Louis the Eleventh was a merry fellow, loving 
a good joke, and— the interests of his position as king 
and those of the church on one side-— he lived jovially, 
giving chase to soiled doves as often as to hares, and 
other royal game. Therefore the sorry scribblers, who 
have made him out a hypocrite, show plainly that they 
knew him not, since he was a good friend, good at 
repartee, and a jollier fellow than any of them. 

It was he who said when he was in a merry mood, 
that four things are excellent and opportune in life — 
to keep warm, to drink cool, to stand up hard and 
to swallow soft. Certain persons have accused him of s 
taking up with trollops ; this is a notorious falsehood, 
since all his acquaintance came of good houses and had 
notable establishments. He did not go in for waste and 
extravagance, always put his hand upon the solid, and 
because certain devourers of the people found no crumbs 
at his table, they have all maligned him. But the real 
collectors of facts know that said king was a capital fel- 
low in private life, and even very agreeable ; and before 
cutting off the heads of his friends, or punishmf them 


— for he did not spare them — it was necessary that they 
should have greatly offended him, and his vengeance 
was always justice ; I have only seen in our friend 
Verville that this worthy sovereign ever made a 
mistake ; but once does not make a habit, and even for 
this his boon companion, Tristan, was more to blame 
than he, the king. This is the circumstance related by 
the said Verville, and I suspect he was cracking a joke. 
I reproduce it because certain people are not familiar 
with the exquisite work of my perfect compatriot. I 
abridge it and only give the substance, the details being 
more ample, of which fact the savans are not ignorant. 
Louis the Eleventh had given the Abbey of Turpenay 
(mentioned in Imperial to a gentleman who, enjoying the 
revenue, had called himself Monsieur de Turpenay. It 
happened that the king being at Plessis-ies-Tours, the 
real abbot, who was a monk, came and presented him- 
self before the king, and presented also a petition, 
remonstrating with him that, canonically and monasti- 
cally, he was entitled to the abbey, and that the usurp- 
ing gentleman wronged him of his right, and therefore 
he called upon his majesty to have justice done to him. 
Nodding his peruke, the king promised to render him 
contented. This monk, importunate as are all hooded 
animals, came often at the end of the king's meals, 
who, bored with the holy water of the convent, called 
friend Tristan and said to him, "Old fellow, there is 
here a Turpenay who angers me ; rid the world of him 
for me. " Tristan, taking a frock for a monk, or a 
monk for a frock, came to this gentleman, whom all 
the court called Monsieur de Turpenay, and having 
accosted him, managed to lead him on one side, then 
taking him by the button hole gave him to understand 
that the king desired he should die. He tried to 


resist, supplicating and supplicating to escape, but in 
no way could he obtain a hearing. He was delicately 
strangled between the head and the shoulders, so that 
he expired ; and three hours afterwards, Tristan told 
the king that he was discharged. It happened five days 
afterwards, which is the space in which souls come 
back again, that the monk came into the room where 
the king was, and when he saw him he was much 
astonished. Tristan was present ; the king called him, 
and whispered into his ear : 

"You have not done that which I told you to. " 

"Saving your grace, I have done it. Turpenay is 
dead. " 

"Eh? I meant this monk." 

"I understood the gentleman!" 

"What, it is done, then?" 

"Yes, sire." 

"Very well, then" — turning towards the monk — 
"come here, monk. " The monk approached. The 
king said to him, "Kneel down." The poor monk be- 
gan to shiver in his shoes. But the king said to him, 
"Thank God that he has not willed that you should be 
killed as I had ordered. He who took your estates has 
been instead. God has done you justice. Go and pray 
God for me, and don't stir out of your convent." 

This proves the good-heartedness of Louis the Elev- 
enth. He might very well have hanged the monk, the 
cause of the error. As for the said gentleman, he died in 
the king's service. In the early days of his sojourn at 
Plessis-les-Tours, King Louis,, not wishing to hold his 
drinking-bouts and give vent to his rakish, propensities 
in his chateau, out of respect to her majesty, became 
enamored of a lady named Nicole Beaupertuys, who 
was, to tell the truth, wife Jt a citizen of the town. 


The husband he sent into Ponent, and put the said 
Nicole in a house near Chardonneret, in that part where 
is the Rue Quincangrogne, because it was a lonely 
place, far from other habitations. This Nicole had a 
tongue as sharp as a popinjay's, was of stately propor- 
tions, furnished with large, beautiful cushions of nature, 
firm to the touch, white as the wings of an angel, and 
known for the rest to be fertile in peripatetic ways, 
which brought it to pass that never with her was the 
same thing encountered twice in love, so deeply had 
she studied the sweet solutions of the science, the 
manners of accommodating the olives of Poissy, the 
expansions of the nerves, and hidden doctrines of the 
breviary, the which much delighted the king. She 
was as gay as a lark, always laughing and singing, and 
never made any one miserable, which is the character- 
istic of women of this open and free nature, who have 
always an occupation — an equivocal one if you like. 

The king often went with the hail-fellows, his friends, 
to the lady's house, and in order not to be seen, always 
went at night-time and without his suite. But being 
always distrustful, and fearing some snare, he gave to 
Nicole all the most savage dogs he had in his kennels, 
beggars that would eat a man without saying "By your 
leave," the which-royal dogs knew only Nicole and the 
king. When the sire came Nicole let them loose in 
the garden, and the door of the house being sufficiently 
barred and closely shut, the king put the keys in his 
pocket, and in perfect security gave himself up, with 
his satellites, to every kind of pleasure, fearing no 
betrayal, jumping about at will, playing tricks, and 
getting up good games. Upon these occasions friend 
Tristan watched the neighborhood, and any one who 
had taken a walk on the Mall of Chardonneret would 


have been rather quickly placed in a position in which 
it would have been easy to give the passers-by a bene- 
diction with his feet, unless he had the king's pass, 
since often would Louis send out in search of lasses 
for his friends, or people to entertain him with the 
amusements suggested by Nicole or the guests. People 
of Tours were there for these little amusements, of 
whom he gently recommended silence, so that no one 
knew of these pastimes until after his death. The 
farce of "Baiser mon cul" was, it is said, invented by 
the said sire. I will relate it, although it is not the 
subject of this tale, because it shows the natural comi- 
calit}/ and humor of this merry monarch. There were 
at Tours three well-known misers ; the first was Master 
Cornelius, who is sufficiently well known ; the second 
was called Peccard, and sold the gilt-work, colored 
papers, and jewels used in churches ; the third was 
hight Marchandeau, and was a very wealthy wine- 
grower. These two men of Touraine were the founders 
of good families, notwithstanding their sordidness. 
One evening that the king was with Beaupertuys, in a 
good humor, having drunk heartily, joked heartily, and 
offered early in the evening his prayer in madame's 
oratory, he said to Le Daim, his crony, to the cardinal, 
La Balue, and to old Dunois, who were still soaking, 
"Let us have a good laugh ! I think it will be a good 
joke to see misers before a bag of gold without their 
being able to touch it. Hi, there!" 

Hearing which, appeared one of his varlets. 

"Go," said he, "seek my treasurer and let him bring 
hither six thousand gold crowns — and at once ! And 
you will go and seize the bodies of my friend Cornelius, 
of the jeweler of the Rue de Cygnes, and of old Marchan- 
deau, and bring them here, by order of the king." 


Then he began to drink again, and to judiciously 
wrangle as to which was the better, a thin woman or a 
stout one ; and as the company comprised the flower 
of wisdom it was decided that the best was the one a 
man had all to himself at that precise moment when 
God sent him a good idea to communicate to her. 
The cardinal asked which was the most precious thing 
to a lady, the first or the last kiss? To which La 
Beaupertuys replied, "that it was the last, seeing that 
she knew then what she was losing, while at the first 
she did not know what she would gain. " During these 
sayings and others which have most fortunately been 
lost, came the six thousand gold crowns, which were 
worth all three hundred thousand francs of to day, so 
much do we go on decreasing in value every day. 
The king ordered the crowns to be arranged upon a 
table, and well lighted up, so that they shone like the 
eyes of the company, which lit up involuntarily, and 
made them laugh in spite of themselves. They did not 
wait long for the three misers, whom the varlet led in, 
pale and panting, except Cornelius, who knew the 
king's strange freaks. 

"Now then, my friends," said Louis to them, "have 
a good look at the crowns on the table. " 

And the three townsmen nibbled at them with their 

You may reckon that the diamond of La Beaupertuys 
sparkled less than their little minnow eyes. 

"These are yours," added the king. 

Thereupon they ceased to admire the crowns, to 
look at each other, and the guests knew well that old 
knaves are more expert in grimaces than any others, 
because their physiognomies become tolerably curious, 

Droll Stories— 8 


like those of cats lapping up milk, or girls titillated 
with marriage. 

"There," said the king, "all that shall be his who 
shall say three times to the two others, 'Baiser mon 
cul,' thrusting his hand into the gold; but if he smile 
while repeating the jest, he will pay ten crowns to 
madame. Nevertheless he'can essay three times." 

"That will be soon earned," said Cornelius, who, 
being a Dutchman, had his lips as often compressed and 
serious as madame's mouth was often open and laugh- 
ing. Then he bravely put his hands on the crowns to 
see if they were good, and clutched them gravely, but 
as he looked at the others to say civilly to them, 
"Baiser mon cul, " the two misers, distrustful of his 
Dutch gravity, replied, "Certainly, sir," as if he had 
sneezed. The which caused all the company to laugh, 
and even Cornelius himself. When the vine-grower 
went to take the crowns he felt such a commotion in his 
cheeks that his old scummer face let little laughs exude 
from all its pores like smoke pouring out of a chimney, 
and he could say nothing. Then it was the turn of 
the jeweler, who was a little bit of a bantering fellow, 
and whose lips were as tightly squeezed as the neck of 
a hanged man. He seized a handful of the crowns, 
looked at the others, even the king, and said with a 
jeering air, "Baiser mon cul." 

"Is it dirty?" asked the vine-dresser. 

"Look and see," replied the jeweler gravely. 

Thereupon the king began to tremble for his crowns, 
since the said Peccard began again, without laughing 
and for the third time was about to utter the sacra- 
mental word, when La Beaupertuys made a sign of 
consent to his modest request, which caused him t& 


lose his countenance, and his mouth broke up into 

"How did you do," asked Dunois, "to keep a grave 
face before six thousand crowns?" 

"Oh, my lord, I thought first of one of my cases 
which is tried to-morrow, and secondly, of my wife who 
is a sorry plague. " 

The desire to gain this good round sum made them 
try again, and the king amused himself for about an 
hour at the expressions of these faces, the preparations, 
jokes, grimaces and other monkey's paternosters that 
they performed ; but they were baling their boats with 
a sieve, and for men who preferred closing their fists 
to opening them it was a bitter sorrow to have to count 
out, each one, a hundred crowns to madame. 

When they we*re gone, Nicole said boldly to the 
king, "Sir, will you let me try?" 

"Holy Virgin 3" replied Louis; "no! I can kiss you 
for less money.'* 

That was said like a thrifty man, which indeed he 
always was. 

One evening the fat Cardinal La Balue carried on 
gallantly with words and actions, a little farther than 
the canons of the church permitted him, with this 
Beaupertuys, who, luckily for herself, was a clever 
hussy, not to be asked with impunity how many holes 
there were in her mother's garments. 

"Look you here, sir cardinal!" said she; "the thing 
which the king likes is not to receive the holy oils. " 

Then came Oliver Le Daim, whom she would not 
listen to either, and to whose nonsense she replied 
that she would ask the king if he wished her to be 

Now as the said shaver did not supplicate her to 


keep his proposals secret, she suspected that these little 
plots were ruses practiced by the king, whose suspi- 
cions had perhaps been aroused by her friends. Now, 
not being able to revenge herself upon Louis, she at 
least determined to pay out the said lords, to make 
fools of them, and amuse the king with the tricks she 
would play upon them. One evening that they had 
come to supper, she had a lady of the city with her, 
who wished to speak with the king. This lady was a 
lady of position, who wished to ask of the king pardon 
for her husband, the which, in consequence of this 
adventure, she obtained. Nicole Beaupertuys having 
led the king aside for a moment into an ante-chamber, 
told him to make their guests drink hard and eat to 
repletion ; that he was to make merry and joke with 
them ; but when the cloth was removed, he was to 
pick quarrels with them about trifles, dispute their 
words and be sharp with them ; and that then she 
would divert him by turning them inside out before 
him. But above all things he was to be friendly to 
the said lady, and it was to appear genuine, because 
she had gallantly lent herself to this good joke. 

"Well, gentlemen," said the king, re-entering the 
room, "let us fall to ; we have had a good day's sport. " 

And the surgeon, the cardinal, a fat bishop, the 
captain of the Scotch guards, a parliamentary envoy, 
and a judge loved of the king, followed the two ladies 
into a room. 

The king did not fail to distil into his guests this 
splendid and first-class supper. He stuffed them with 
green peas, returning to the hotch potch, praising the 
plums, commending the fish, saying to one, "Why do 
you not eat?" to another, "Drink to madame;" to all 
of them, "Gentlemen, taste these lobsters; put this 


bottle to death ! You do not know the flavor of this 
forcemeat. And these lampreys — ah ! what do you 
say to them? And, by the Lord ! the finest barbel ever 
drawn from the Loire! Just stick your teeth into this 
pastry. This game is my own hunting ; he who takes 
it not offends me." And again, "Drink, the king's eyes 
are the other way. Just give me your opinion of these 
preserves ; they are madame's own. Have some of 
these grapes ; they are my own growing. Have some 
medlars. " And while inducing them to swell out their 
abdominal protuberances, the good monarch laughed 
with them, and they joked, and disputed, and spat, and 
blew their noses, and kicked up just as though the king 
had not been with them. Then so much victuals had 
been taken on board, so many flagons drained and 
stews spoiled, that the faces of the guests were the 
color of cardinals' gowns, and their doublets appeared 
ready to burst, since their stomachs were crammed 
with meat like Troyes sausages from top to bottom. 
Going into the salon again, they broke into a profuse 
sweat, began to blow and to curse their gluttony. The 
king sat quietly apart ; each of them was the more 
willing to be silent because all their forces were required 
for the intestinal digestion of the huge platefuls con- 
fined in their stomachs, which began to wabble and 
rumble violently. One said to himself, "I was stupid 
to eat of that sauce. " Another scolded himself for hav- 
ing indulged in a plate of eels cooked with capers. 
Another thought to himself. "Oh ! oh ! the forcemeat is 
serving me out." The cardinal, who was the biggest 
man of the lot, snorted through his nostrils like a 
frightened horse. It was he who was first compelled 
to give vent to a loud sounding belch, and then he soon 
wished himself in Germany where this is a form of 


salutation, for the king, hearing this gastric language, 
looked at the cardinal with knitted brows. 

"What does this mean?" said he, "am I a simple 

This was heard with terror, because usually the king 
made much of a good belch well off the stomach. 

Beaupertuys took the good king aside and said to 
him : 

"Know now that I have had made by the church 
jeweler, Peccard, two large dolls, exactly resembling this 
lady and myself. Now when hard pressed by the drugs 
which I have put in their goblets, they desire to mount 
the throne to which we are now about to pretend to 
go, they will always find the place taken; by this 
means you will enjoy their writhings. " 

Thus having said, La Beaupertuys disappeared with 
the lady to go and turn the wheel, of which contrivance 
I will tell you the origin in another place. And after 
an honest lapse of water, Beaupertuys came back alone, 
leaving it to be believed that she had left the lady at 
the little laboratory of natural alchemy. Thereupon the 
king, singling out the cardinal, made him get up, and 
talked with him seriously of his affairs, holding him 
by the tassel of his amice. To all that the king said, 
La Balue replied, "Yes, sir," to be delivered from this 
favor, and to slip out of the room, since the water was 
in his cellars, and he was about to lose the key of his 
back-door. All the guests were in a state of not know- 
ing how to arrest the progress of the faecal matter to 
which nature has given, even more than to water, the 
property of finding a certain level. Their substances 
modified themselves and glided working downward, like 
those insects who demand to be let out of their cocoons, 
raging, tormenting, and ungrateful to the higher 


powers ; for nothing is so ignorant, so insolent as those 
cursed objects, and they are importunate like all things 
detained to whom one owes liberty. So they slipped 
at every turn like eels out of a net, and each one had 
need of great efforts and science not to disgrace him- 
self before the king. Louis took great pleasure in 
interrogating his guests, and was much amused with the 
vicissitudes of their physiognomies, on which were 
reflected the dirty grimaces of their writhings. The 
counsellor of justice said to Oliver, "I would give my 
office to be behind a hedge for half a dozen seconds." 

The cardinal, believing that the lady had obtained 
her receipt from the bank of deposit, left the tassels of 
his girdle in the king's hand, making a start as if he 
had forgotten to say his prayers, and make his way 
towards the door. 

"What is the matter with you, Monsieur le Cardinal?" 
said the king. 

"By the halidame, what is the matter with me? It 
appears that all your affairs are very extensive, sire ! " 

The cardinal slipped out, leaving the others aston- 
ished at his cunning. He proceeded gloriously towards 
the lower room, loosing a little the strings of his purse ; 
but when he opened the blessed little door he found 
the lady at her functions upon the throne, like a pope 
about to be consecrated. Then restraining his impa- 
tience, he descended the stairs to go into the garden. 
However, on the last steps the barking of the dogs put 
him in great fear of being bitten ; and not knowing 
where to go, he came back into the room, shivering 
like a man who had been in the open air ! The others, 
seeing the cardinal return, imagined that he had qui- 
eted his reservoirs, and believed him happy. Then the 
surgeon rose quickly, as if to take note of the tapestries 


and count the rafters, but gained the cioor before anyone 
else, and relaxing his sphincter in advance, he hummed 
a tune on his way to the retreat ; arrived there he was 
compelled, dike La Balue, to murmur words of excuse 
to this student of perpetual motion, shutting the door 
with as much promptitude as he had opened it ; and 
he came back burdened with an accumulation which 
seriously impeded his private channels: And in the 
same way went the guests one after the other, without 
being able to unburden themselves, and soon again found 
themselves all in the presence of Louis the Eleventh, 
as much distressed as before, looking at each other 
slyly, understanding each other better with their glances 
than they ever understood with their mouths. 

"I believe," said the cardinal to the surgeon, "that 
lady will go on until to-morrow. " 

"She's been an hour working at what I would get 
done in a minute. May the fever seize her ! " cried 
Oliver Le Daim. 

All the courtiers, seized with colic, were walking up and 
down to make their importunate matters patient, when 
the said lady reappeared in the room. You can believe 
they found her beautiful and graceful, and would wil- 
lingly have kissed her. Never did they salute the day 
with more favor than this lady, the liberator of their poor 
unfortunate bodies. La Balue rose; the others, from 
honor, esteem and reverence of the church, gave way to 
the clergy, and biding their time, they continued to 
make grimaces, at which the king laughed to himself 
with Nicole, who aided him to stop the respiration of 
these loose-boweled gentlemen. The good Scotch cap- 
tain, who had more than all the others eaten of a dish in 
which the cook had put an aperient powder, became the 
victim of misplaced confidence. He went ashamed into 


a corner, hoping that before the king his mistake might 
escape detection. At this moment the cardinal returned 
horribly upset, because he had found La Beaupertuys on 
the episcopal seat. Now, in his torments, not knowing 
if she were in the room, he came back and gave vent to 
a diabolical " O/iJ" on beholding her near his master. 

" What do you mean?" exclaimed the king, looking at 
the priest in a way to give him the fever. 

"Sire," said La Balue insolently, "the affairs of pur- 
gatory are in my ministry, and I am bound to inform you 
that there is sorcery going on in this house." 

"Ah! little priest, you wish to make game of me!" 
said the king. 

At these words the company were in a terrible state. 

"So, you treat me with disrespect?" said the king, 
which made them turn pale. "Ho, there! Tristan, my 
friend! " cried Louis the Eleventh from the window which 
he threw up suddenly, "come up here! " 

The grand provost of the hotel was not long before he 
appeared; and as these gentlemen were all nobodies, 
raised to their present position by the favor of the king, 
Louis, in a moment of anger, could crush them at will; 
so that with the exception of the cardinal, who relied 
upon his cassock, Tristran found them all rigid and 

"Conduct these gentlemen to the Pretorium, on the 
Mall, my friend; they have disgraced themselves through 

"Am Lnot good at jokes? " said Nicole to him. 

"The farce is good, but it is fetid," replied he laugh- 

This royal answer showed the courtiers that this time 
the king did not intend to play with their heads, for 
which they thanked heaven. This monarch was partial 


to these tricks. He was not at all a bad fellow, as the 
guests remarked while relieving themselves against the 
side of the Mall with Tristan, who, like a good French- 
man, kept them company, and escorted them to their 
homes. This is why since that time the citizens of Tours 
have never failed to defile the Mall of Chardonneret, be- 
cause the gentlemen of the court had been there. 

I will not leave this great king without committing to 
writing the good joke which he played upon La Gode- 
grand, who was an old maid, much disgusted that she 
had not during the forty years she had lived, been able 
to find a husband. This old maid had her apartments 
on the other side of the house which belonged to La 
Beaupertuys, at the corner of Rue de Hierusalem, in such 
a position that, standing on the balcony joining the wall, 
it was easy to see what she was doing, and hear what 
she was saying in the lower room where she lived; and 
often the king derived much amusement from the antics 
of the old girl, who did not know that she was so much 
within the range of his majesty's culverin. Now, one 
market day it happened that the king had caused to be 
hanged a young citizen of Tours, who had insulted a no- 
ble lady. This young man had long hair, and was so 
handsome that the whole town wished to see him hanged, 
both from regret and out of curiosity. You may be sure 
that at this hanging there were more caps than hats. 
Indeed, the said young man swung very well; and, after 
the fashion and custom of persons hanged, he died gal- 
lantly, which fact made a great noise in the town. Many 
ladies said on this subject that it was a murder not to 
have preserved so fine a fellow from the scaffold. 

"Suppose we were to put this handsome corpse in the 
room of La Godegrand," said La Beaupertuys to the king. 

"We should terrify her," replied Louis. 


" Not at all, sire. Be sure that she will welcome him. 
Yesterday I saw her making love to a young man's cap 
placed on the top of a chair, and you would have laughed 
heartily at her words and gestures." 

Now while this forty-year-old virgin was at vespers, 
the king sent to have the young townsman, who had just 
finished the last scene of his tragic farce, taken down, 
and having dressed him in a white shirt, two officers got 
over the walls of La Godegrand's garden and put the 
corpse into her room, on the side nearest the street. Hav- 
ing done this they went away, and the king remained in 
the room with the balcony to it, playing with Beauper- 
tuys, and awaiting the hour at which the old maid should 
come home. La Godergand soon came back with a hop, 
skip, and jump, as the Tourainians say, from the Church 
of St. Martin, from which she was not far, since the Rue 
d'Hierusalem touches the walls of the cloister. She en- 
tered her house, laid down her prayer-book, chaplet and 
rosary, then poked the fire, blew it, warmed herself at it, 
settled herself in her chair, and played with her cat; 
then she went to the larder, supping and sighing, and 
sighing and supping, eating alone, with her eyes cast 
down upon the carpet; and after having drunk, behaved 
in a manner forbidden in court society. 

"Ah! if the corpse said to her, 'God bless you I'" 

At this joke of La Beaupertuys, both laughed heartily 
in their sleeves. And with great attention this very 
christian king watched the old maid, who admired her- 
self while removing her,things, and doing a thousand lit- 
tle things which, alas! all ladies are obliged to do, much 
to their annoyance; but without these little faults of na- 
ture, they would be too proud, and one would not be able 
to enjoy their society. Having achieved her aquatic and 
musical discourse, the old maid looked under the bed, 


and yelled forth a fine, great, ample, and curious cry, 
when she saw this hanged man, then sprang away from 
- him out of coquetry. But as she did not know he was 
really dead, she came back again, believing he was mock- 
ing her, and counterfeiting death. 

"Go away, you bad young man!" said she. 

But you can imagine that she preferred this request in a 
most humble and gracious tone of voice. Then seeing 
that he did not move, she examined him more closely, and 
was much astonished at this so fine human nature when 
she recognized the young fellow, upon whom the f ancy 
took her to perform some purely scientific experiments 
in the interests of hanged persons. 

"What is she doing ?" said La Beaupertuys to the 

"She is trying to reanimate him. It is a work of 
christian humanity." 

And the old maid rubbed this fine }'oung man, suppli- 
cating Holy Mary, the Egyptian, to aid her to renew the 
life of this husband, who had for her fallen from heaven, 
when suddenly looking at the dead body she was rubbing, 
she thought she saw a slight movement in the eyes; then 
she put her hand upon the man's heart, and felt it beat 
feebly. At length she had the delight of bringing to life 
that fine, handsome young fellow, who by a lucky chance 
had been very badly hanged. 

"See how my executioners serve me," said Louis 

"Ah!" said La Beaupertuys, "you will not have him 
hanged again? he's too handsome." 

"The decree does not say that he shall be hanged 
twice, but he shall* marry the old woman." 

Indeed, the good lady went in a great hurry to seek 
a master leech, a good bleeder, who lived in the abbey, 


and brought him back directly. He immediately took 
his lancet and bled the young man. And as no blood 
came out: "Ah!" said he, "it is too late, the trans- 
shipment of blood in the lungs has taken place. " 

But suddenly this good young blood oozed out a 
little, and then came in abundance, and the hempen 
apoplexy, which had only just begun, was arrested in 
its course. The young man moved and came more to 
life ; then he fell, from natural causes, into a state of 
great weakness and profound sadness, prostration of 
flesh and general flabbiness. Now the old maid, who 
was all eyes, and followed the great and notable changes 
which were taking place in the person of this badly 
hanged man, pulled the surgeon by the sleeve, and 
pointing out to him, by a curious glance of the eye, the 
piteous case, said to him : 

"Will he for the future be always like that?" 

"Often," replied the veracious surgeon. 

"Oh! he was much nicer hanged!" 

At this speech the king burst out laughing. Seeing 
him at the window, the woman and the surgeon were 
much frightened, for this laugh seemed to them a 
second sentence of death for their poor victim. But 
the king kept his word and married them. And in 
order to do justice he gave the husband the name of 
Sieur de Mortsauf in the place of the one he had lost 
upon the scaffold. As La Godegrand had a very big 
basket full of crowns, they founded a good family in 
Touraine, which still exists and is much respected, 
since M. de Mortsauf faithfully served Louis the 
Eleventh on different occasions. Only he never liked 
to come across gibbets or old women and never again 
made assignations in the night. 

This teaches us to thoroughly verify and recognize 



women, and not to deceive ourselves in the local 
difference which exists between the old and the young, 
for if we are not hanged for our errors of love, there 
are always great risks to run. 


The high constable of Armagnac espoused, from the 
desire of a great fortune, the Countess Bonne, who was 
already considerably enamored of little Savoisy, son of 
the chamberlain to his majesty, King Charles the Sixth. 

The constable was a rough warrior, miserable in 
appearance, tough in skin, thickly bearded, always utter- 
ing angry words, always busy hanging people, always 
in the sweat of battles, or thinking of other stratagems 
than those of love. Thus this good soldier, caring 
little to flavor the marriage stew, used his charming 
wife after the fashion of a man with more lofty ideas ; 
of the which the ladies have a great horror. 

Now the lovely countess as soon as she was grafted 
on the constable, only nibbled more eagerly at the love 
with which her heart was laden for the aforesaid 
Savoisy, which that gentleman clearly perceived. 

Wishing both to study the same music, they would 
soon harmonize their fancies, or decipher the hiero- 
glyphic ; and this was a thing clearly demonstrated to 
the Queen Isabella, that Savoisy's horses were oftener 
stabled at the house of her cousin of Armagnac than 
in the Hotel St. Pol, where the chamberlain lived since 
the destruction of his residence, ordered by the univer- 
sity, as every one knows. 


This discreet and wise princess, fearing in advance 
some unfortunate adventure for Bonne — the more so_ 
as the constable was as ready to brandish his broad- 
sword as a priest to bestow benedictions — the said queen, 
as sharp as a dirk, said one day, while coming out 
from vespers, to her cousin, who was taking the holy 
water with Savoisy : 

"My dear, don't you see some blood in that water?" 

"Bah !" said Savoisy to the- queen. "Love likes 
blood, madame. " 

This the queen considered a good reply, and put it 
into writing, and, later on, into action, when her lord 
the king wounded one of her lovers, whose business 
you will see settled in this narrative. 

You know by constant experience, that in the early 
time of love each of two lovers is always in great fear 
of exposing the mystery of the heart, and as much 
from the flower of prudence as from the amusement 
yielded by the sweet tricks of gallantry they play at who 
can best conceal their thoughts. But one day of for- 
getfulness suffices to inter the whole virtuous past. 

The poor woman is taken in her joy as in a lasso ; 
her sweetheart proclaims his presence or sometimes 
his departure, by some article of clothing — a scarf, a 
spur, left by some fatal chance, and there comes a 
stroke of the dagger that severs the web so gallantly 
woven by their golden delights. But when one is full 
of days, he should not make a wry face at death, and 
the sword of a husband is a pleasant death for a gallant, 
if there be pleasant deaths. So may-rbe will finish the 
merry amours of the constable's wife. 

One morning Monsieur d'Armagnac, having lots of 
leisure time in consequence of the flight of the Duke of 
Burgundy, who was quitting Lagny, thought he would 


go and wish his lady good day, and attempt to wake 
her up in a pleasant enough fashion, so that she should 
not be angry; but she, sunk in the heavy slumbers of 
the morning, replied to the action : 

"Leave me alone, Charles !" 

''Oh! oh!" said the constable, hearing the name of a 
saint who was not one of his patrons, "I have a 
Charles on my head !" 

Then he jumped out of the bed, and ran upstairs 
with his face flaming and his sword drawn, to the 
place w*here slept the countess' maid-servant, convinced 
that the said servant had a finger in the pie. 

"Ah, ah, wench of hell!" cried he, to commence the 
discharge of his passion, "say thy prayers, for I intend 
to kill thee instantly, because of the secret practices 
of Charles who comes here. " 

"Ah, monseigneur, " replied the woman, "who told 
you that?" 

"Stand ready, that I may rip thee at one blow, if 
you do not confess to me every assignation given, and 
in what manner they have been arranged. If thy 
tongue gets entangled, if thou falterest, I will pierce 
thee with my dagger ! " 

"Pierce me through!" replied the girl; "you will 
learn nothing. " 

The constable, having taken this excellent reply 
amiss, ran her through on the spot, so mad was he 
with rage, and came back into his wife's chamber and 
said to his groom, whom, awakened by the shrieks of 
the girl, he met upon the stairs, "Go up stairs ; Pve 
corrected Billette rather severely." 

Before he reappeared in the presence of Bonne ha 
went to fetch his son who was sleeping like a child, 
and led him roughly into her room. The mother 

Droll Stories— 9j 


opened her eyes pretty widely, you may imagine, at 
the cries of her little one ; and was greatly terrified at 
seeing him in the hands of her husband, who had his 
right hand all bloody and cast a fierce glance on the 
mother and son. 

"What is the matter?" said she. 

"Madame," asked the man of quick execution, "this 
child, is he the fruit of my loins, or those of Savoisy, 
your lover?" 

At this question Bonne turned pale, and sprang upon 
her son like a frog leaping into the water. 

"Ah, he is really ours," said she. 

"If you do not wish to see his head roll at your feet, 
confess yourself to me, and no prevarication. You 
have given me a lieutenant. " 


"Who is he?" 

"It is not Savoisy, and I will never say the name of 
a man that I don't know. " 

Thereupon the constable rose, took his wife by the 
arm to cut her speech with a blow of the sword, but 
she, casting upon him an imperial glance, cried : 

"Kill me if you will, but touch me not." 

"You shall live," replied the husband, "because I 
reserve you for a chastisement more ample than death. " 

And doubting the inventions, snares, arguments, and 
artifices familiar to women in these desperate situations 
of which they study night and day the variations, by 
themselves, or between themselves, he departed with this 
rude and bitter speech. He went instantly to interro- 
gate his servants, presenting to them a face divinely 
terrible ; so all of them replied to him as they would to 
God the Father on the Judgment Day, when each of 
us will be called to His account. 


None of them knew of the serious mischief which was 
at the bottom of those summary interrogations and 
crafty interlocutions ; but from all that they said, the 
constable came to the conclusion that no male in his 
house was in the business, except one of his dogs, 
whom he found dumb, and to whom he had given the 
post of watching the gardens ; so taking him in his 
hands, he strangled him with rage. This fact incited 
him by induction to suppose that the other constable 
came into his house by the garden, of which the only 
entrance was a postern opening on to the water side. 

It is necessary here to explain to those who are 
ignorant of it the locality of the Hotel d'Armagnac, 
which had a notable situation near the royal houses of 
St. Pola. On this site has since been built the Hotel 
of Longueville. Then, as at the present time, the 
residence of d'Armagnac had a porch of fine stone in 
the Rue St. Antoine, was fortified at all points, and 
the high walls by the river side, in the face of the He 
du Vaches, in the part where now stands the port of 
La Greve, were furnished with little towers. The 
design of this has for a long time been shown at the 
house of Cardinal Duprat, the king's chancellor. The 
constable ransacked his brains, and at the bottom, 
from his finest stratagems, drew the. best, and fitted it 
so well to the present case, that the gallant would be 
certain to be taken like a hare in the trap. "'Sdeath, 
said he, "my planter of horns is taken, and I have the 
time now to think how I. shall finish him off. M 

Now, this is the order of battle which this grand 
hairy captain, who wagered such glorious war against 
Duke Jeansans-Peur commanded for the assault of his 
secret enemy. He took a goodly number of his most 
loyal and adroit archers, and placed them in the 


quay tower, ordering them under the heaviest penalties 
to draw without distinction of persons, except his wife, 
on those of his household who should attempt to leave 
the gardens, and to admit therein, either by night or 
by day, the favored gentleman. The same was done 
on the porch side, in the Rue St. Antoine. 

The retainers, even the chaplain, were ordered not 
to leave the house under pain of death. Then the 
guard of the two sides of the hotel having been com- 
mitted to the soldiers of a company of ordnance, who 
were ordered to keep a sharp lookout in the side 
streets, it was certain that the unknown lover, to whom 
the constable was indebted for his pair of horns, would 
be taken warm, when, knowing nothing, he should 
come at the accustomed hour of love to insolently plant 
his standard in the heart of the legitimate appurtenan- 
ces of the said lord count. 

It was a trap into which the most expert man would 
fall unless he were seriously protected by the fates, as 
was the good St. Peter by the Saviour when he prevented 
him going to the bottom of the sea the day when he 
had a fancy to try if the sea were as solid as terra firma. 

The constable had business with the inhabitants of 
Poissy, and was obliged to be in the saddle after dinner, 
so that, knowing his intention, the poor Countess Bonne 
determined at night to invite her young gallant to her 

While the constable was making round his hotel a 
girdle of spies and of death, and hiding his people near 
the postern to seize the gallant as he came out, not 
knowing where he would spring from, his wife was not 
amusing herself by threading peas or seeing black cows 
in the embers. First, the maid-servant who had been 
stuck, unstuck herself and dragged herself to her 


mistress; she told her that her outraged lord knew 
nothing, and that before giving up the ghost she would 
comfort her dear mistress by assuring her that she could 
have perfect confidence in her sister, who was laundress 
in the hotel, and was willing to let herself be chopped 
up as small as sausage-meat to please madame. This 
she was the most adroit and roguish woman in the 
neighborhood, and renowned from the council chamber 
to the Trahoir cross among the common people, as fertile 
in invention for the desperate cases of love. 

Then, while weeping for the decease of her good 
chamber-woman, the countess sent for the laundress, 
made her leave her tubs and join her in rummaging the 
bag of good tricks, wishing to save Savoisy, even at 
the price of her future salvation. 

First of all the two women determined to let him 
know their lord and master's suspicions, and beg him 
to be careful. 

Now, behold the good washerwoman, who, carrying 
her tub like a mule, attempts to leave the hotel. But 
at the porch she found a man-at-arms who turned a 
deaf ear to all the blandishments of the wash-tub. 

Then she resolved, from her great devotion, to take 
the soldier on his weak side, and she tickled him so 
with her fondling, that he romped very well with her, 
although he was armour-plated, ready for battle; but 
when the game was over he still refused to let her go 
into the street, and although she tried to get herself a 
passport sealed by some of the handsomest, believing 
them more gallant ; neither the archers, men-at-arms, 
nor others, dared open for her the smallest entrance of 
the house. "You are wicked and ungrateful wretches, 
said she, "not to render me a like service. " 

Luckily at this employment she learned everything, 


and came back in great haste to her mistress, to whom 
she recounted the strange machinations of the count. 
The two women held a fresh council and had not con- 
sidered, the time it takes to sing Alleluia, twice, these 
war-like appearances, watches, defenses, and equivocal, 
specious and diabolical orders and dispositions before 
they recognized by the sixth sense with which all 
females are furnished, the special danger which threat- 
ened the poor lover. 

Madame having learned that she alone had leave to 
quit the house, ventured quickly to profit by her right, 
but she did not go the length of a bowshot, since the 
constable had ordered four of his pages to be always 
on duty ready to accompany the countess, and two of 
the ensigns of his company not to leave her. Then 
the poor lady returned to her chamber, weeping as 
much as all the Magdalens one sees in the church 
pictures could weep together. 

"Alas!" said she, "my lover must then be killed, and 
I shall never see him again ! ... he whose words 
were so sweet, whose manners were so graceful ; that 
lovely head that has so often rested on my knees, will 
now be bruised . . . What ! can I not throw to my 
husband an empty and valueless head in place of the 
one full of charms and worth ... a rank head for a 
sweet-smelling one ; a hated head for a head of love?" 

"Ah, madame!" cried the washerwoman, "suppose we 
dress up, in the garments of a nobleman, the steward's 
son who is mad for me and wearies me much, and 
having thus accoutred him, we push him out through 
the postern." 

Thereupon the two women looked at each other with 
assassinating eyes. 


"This marplot," said she, "once slain, all those 
soldiers will fly away like geese." 

"Yes, but will not the count recognize the wretch?" 

And the countess, striking her breast, exclaimed 
shaking her head, "No, no, my dear, here it is noble 
blood that must be spilt without stint." 

Then she thought a little, and jumping with joy, 
suddenly kissed the laundress, saying, "Because I have 
saved my lover's life by your counsel, I will pay you 
for his life until death. " 

Thereupon the countess dried her tears, put on the 
face of a bride, took her little bag and her prayer-book, 
and went towards the Church of St. Pol, whose bells 
she heard ringing, seeing that the last mass was about 
to be said. In this sweet devotion the countess never 
failed, being a showy woman, like all the ladies of the 
court. Now this was called the full-dress mass, because 
none but fops, fashionables, young gentlemen and 
ladies puffed out and highly scented, were to be met 
there. In fact, no dresses were seen there without 
armorial bearings, and no spurs that were not gilt. 

So the Countess Bonne departed, leaving at the hotel 
the laundress much astonished, and charged to keep 
her eyes about her, and came with great pomp to the 
church, accompanied by her pages, the two ensigns and 
men-at-arms. It is here necessary to say that among 
the band of gallant knights who frisked round the 
ladies in church, the countess had more than one whose 
joy she was, and who had given his heart to her, after 
the fashion of youths who put down enough and to 
spare upon their tablets, only in order to make a con- 
quest of at least one out of a great number. 

Among these birds of fine prey, who, with open beaks 
looked oftener between the benches and the paternosters 


than towards the altar and the priests, there was one 
upon whom the countess sometimes bestowed the charity 
of a glance, because he was less trifling and more deeply 
smitten than all the others. 

This one remained bashful, always stuck against the 
same pillar, never moving from it, but readily ravished 
with the sight of this ladynvhom he had chosen as his. 
His pale face was softly melancholy. His physiognomy 
gavg proof of a fine heart, one of those which nourish 
ardent passions and plunge delightedly into the despairs 
of love without hope. Of these people there are few 
because ordinarily one likes more a certain thing than 
the unknown felicities lying and flourishing at the bot- 
tom-most depths of the soul ! 

This said gentleman, although his garments were well 
made and clean and neat, having even a certain amount 
of taste shown in the arrangement, seemed to the con- 
stable's wife to be a poor knight seeking fortune, and 
come from afar, with his nobility for his portion. Now 
partly from a suspicion of his secret poverty, partly 
because she was well beloved by him, and a little 
because he had a good countenance, fine black hair, 
and a good figure, and remained humble and submis- 
sive in all, the constable's wife had wished for him the 
favor of women and of fortune, not to let his gallantry 
stand idle, and from a good housewifely idea she fired 
his imagination according to her fantasies, by certain 
small favors and little looks which serpented towards 
him like biting adders, trifling with the happiness of 
his young life, like a princess accustomed to play with 
objects more precious than a simple knight. In fact, 
her husband risked the whole kingdom as you would a 
penny at piquet. Finally it was only three days since, 
at the conclusion of vespers, that the constable's wife, 


pointing out to the queen this follower of love, said 
laughing : 

"There's a man of quality." 

This sentence remained in the fashionable language. 
Later it became a custom so to designate the people of 
the court. It was to the wife of Constable d'Armagnac, 
and to no other source, that the French language is 
indebted for this charming expression. 

By a lucky chance the countess had surmised cor- 
rectly concerning this gentleman. He was a bannerless 
knight named Julien de Boys-Bourredon, who not 
having inherited on his estate enough to make a tooth- 
pick, and knowing no other wealth than the rich nature 
with which his dead mother had opportunely furnished 
him, conceived the idea of deriving therefrom both rent 
and profit at court, knowing how fond ladies are of these 
good revenues, and value them high and dear, when 
they can stand being looked at between two suns. 
There are many like him who have thus taken the 
narrow road of women to make their way ; but he, far 
from arranging his love in measured quantities, spent 
funds and all, as soon as, come to the full-dress mass, 
he saw the triumphant beauty of the Countess Bonne. 
Then he fell really in love, which was a grand thing 
for his crowns because he lost both thirst and appetite. 
This love is of the worst kind, because it incites you 
to the love of diet, during the diet of love; a double 
malady, of which one is sufficient to extinguish a man. 

Such was the young gentleman of whom the good 
lady ha<J thought, and towards whom she came quickly 
to invite him to his death. 

On entering, she saw the poor chevalier, who, faithful 
to his pleasure, awaited her, his back against a pillar, 
as a sick man longs for the sun, the spring-time and 


the dawn. Then she turned away her eyes, and wished 
to go to the queen and request her assistance in this 
desperate case, for she took pity on her lover, but one 
of the captains said to her, with great appearance of 
respect, "Madame we have orders not to allow you to 
speak with man or woman even though it should be 
the queen or your confessor. And remember that the 
lives of all of us are at stake. " 

"Is it not your business to die?" said she. 

"And also to obey," replied the soldier. 

Then the countess knelt down in her accustomed 
place, and again regarding her faithful slave, found his 
face thinner and more deeply lined than ever it had been. 

"Bah!" said she, "I shall have less remorse for his 
death, he is half dead as it is. " 

With this paraphrase of her idea she cast upon the 
said gentleman one of those warm little ogles that are 
only allowable in princesses, and the false love which 
her lovely eyes bore witness to gave a pleasant pang to 
the gallant of the pillar. Who does not love the warm 
attack of life when it flows thus round the heart and 
engulfs everything. 

Madame recognized with a pleasure, always fresh in 
the minds of women, the omnipotence of her magnifi- 
cent regard by the answer which, without saying a 
word, the chevalier made to it. And, in fact, the 
blushes which empurpled his cheeks spoke better than 
the best speeches of the Latin and Greek orators, and 
was also well understood. At this sweet sight, the 
countess, to make sure that it was not a freak of nature, 
took pleasure in experimentalizing how far the virtue 
of her eyes would go, and after having tested her slave 
more than thirty times she was confirmed in her belief 
that he would bravely die for her. This idea so touched 


her, that from three repetitions between her orisons she 
was tickled into a desire to put into a lump all the joys 
of man, and to dissolve them for him in one single 
glance of love in order that she should not one day be 
reproached with having not only dissipated the life, 
but also the happiness of this gentleman. When the 
officiating priest turned round to sing the Off you go to 
this fine gilded flock, the constable's wife went out by 
the side of the pillar where her courtier was, passed in 
front of him and endeavored to insinuate into his 
understanding by a speaking glance that he was to 
follow her, and to make positive the intelligence and 
significant interpretation of this gentle appeal, the artful 
jade turned around again a little after passing him to 
again request his company. She saw that he had 
moved a little from his place, and dared not advance, 
so modest was he, but upon this last sign, the gentle- 
man, sure of not being overcredulous, mixed with the 
crowd with little and noiseless steps, like an innocent 
who is afraid of venturing in one of those good places 
people call bad ones. And whether he walked behind 
or in front, to the right or to the left, my lady bestowed 
upon him a glistening glance to allure him the more 
and the better draw him to her, like a fisher who gen- 
tly jerks the line in order to hook the gudgeon. And, 
indeed, on arriving at the porch of her hotel, the count- 
ess hesitated to enter therein, and again turned her face 
toward the poor chevalier to invite him to accompany 
her, discharging at him so diabolical a glance, that he 
ran to the queen of his heart, believing himself to be 
called by her. Thereupon she offered him her hand, and 
both, boiling and trembling from contrary causes, found 
themselves inside the house. At this wretched hour, 
Madame d'Armagnac was ashamed of having done all 


these harlotries to the profit of death, and of betraying 
Savoisy the better to save him ; but this slight remorse 
was lame as the greater, and came tardily. Seeing 
everything ready, the countess leaned heavily upon 
her vassaPs arm and said to him : 

"Come quickly to my room ; it is necessary that I 
should speak with you. " 

And he, not knowing that his life was in peril, found 
no voice wherewith to reply, so much did the hope of 
approaching happiness choke him. 

When the laundress saw this handsome gentleman so 
quickly hooked, "Ah!" said she, "these ladies of the 
court are the best at such work. " Then she honored 
this courtier with a profound salutation, in which was 
depicted the ironical respect due to those who have the 
great courage to die for so little. 

"Picard, " said the constable's lady, drawing the 
laundress to her by the skirt, "I have not the courage 
to confess to him the reward with which I am about to 
pay his silent love and his charming belief in the 
loyalty of women." 

"Bah ! madame : why tell him? Send him away well 
contented by the postern. So many men die in the war 
for nothing, cannot this one die for something?" 

"Come along," cried the countess, "I will confess all 
to him. That shall be the punishment for my sin." 

Thinking that his lady was arranging with her servant 
certain trifling provisions and secret things in order not 
to be disturbed in the interview she had promised him, 
the unknown lover kept at a discreet distance, looking 
at the flies. Nevertheless, he thought that the countess 
was very bold, but also, as even a hunchback would 
have done, he found a thousand reasons to justify her, 
and thought himself quite worthy to inspire such reck-* 


lessness. He was lost in these good thoughts when 
the constable's wife opened the door of her chamber, 
and invited the chevalier to follow her in. There his 
noble lady cast aside of her outward apparel of her 
lofty fortune, and falling at the feet of this gentleman, 
became a simple woman. 

"Alas, sweet sir!" said she, "I have acted vilely 
towards you. Listen: On your departure from this 
house, you will meet your death. The love which I 
feel for another has bewildered me, and without being 
able to hold his place here, you will have to take it 
before his murderers. This is the joy to which I have 
bidden you. 

"Ah!" replied Boys-Bourredon, interring in the 
depths of his heart a dark despair, "I am grateful to 
you for having made use of me as of something which 
belonged to you .... Yes, I love you so much that 
every day I have dreamed of offering you in imitation 
of the ladies, a thing that can -be given but once. Take, 
then, my life ! " 

And the poor chevalier, in saying this, gave her one 
glance to suffice for all the time he would have been 
able to look at her through the long days. Hearing 
these brave and loving words, Bonne rose suddenly. 

"Ah ! were it not for Savoisy, how I would love 
thee ! " said she. 

"Alas! my fate is then accomplished, " replied Boys- 
Bourredon. "My horoscope predicted that I should 
die by the love of a great lady. Ah, God ! " said he 
clutching his good sword, "I will sell my life dearly, 
but I shall die, content in thinking that my decease 
assures the happiness of her I love. I shall live better 
in her memory than in reality. " At the sight of the ges- 
ture and the beaming face of this courageous man, the 


constable's wife was pierced to the heart. But soon 
she was wounded to the quick because he seemed to 
wish to leave her without even asking of her the 
smallest favor. 

"Come, that I may arm you, M said she to him, 
making an attempt to kiss him. 

"Ha! my lady love," replied he, moistening with a 
gentle tear the fire of her eyes, "would you render my 
death impossible by attaching too great a value to my 

"Come," cried she, overcome by this intense love, "I 
do not know what the end of all this will be, but come 
— afterwards we will go and perish together at the 
postern. " 

The same flame leaped in their hearts, the same 
harmony had struck for both ; they embraced each other 
with rapture in the delicious access of mad fever ; they 
fell into a profound forgetfulness of the dangers of 
Savoisy, of themselves, of the constable, of death, of 
life, of everything. 

Meanwhile the watchman at the porch had gone to 
inform the constable of the arrival of the gallant, and 
to tell him how the enraged gentleman had taken no 
notice of the winks which, during mass and on the road, 
the countess had given him in order to prevent his 
destruction. They met their master arriving in great 
haste at the postern, because on their side the archers 
of the quay had whistled to him afar off, saying to him : 

"The Sire de Savoisy has passed on." 

And indeed Savoisy had come at the appointed hour, 
and like all the lovers, thinking only of his lady, he had 
not seen the count's spies and had slipped in at . the 
postern. This collision of lovers was the cause of the 
constable's cutting short the words of those who came 

The sword of a husband is a pleasant death for a gallant, if there be pleasant <f i ti'* 


from the Rue St. Antoine, saying to them with a gesture 
of authority that they did not think wise to disregard : 
"I know that the animal is taken." 
Thereupon all rushed with a great noise through the 
said postern, crying, "Death to him ! death to him !" and 
men-at-arms, archers, the constable, and the captains, 
all rushed full tilt upon Charles Savoisy, the king's 
nephew, whom they attacked just under the countess' 
window, where, by a strange chance, the groans of the 
poor young man were dolorously exhaled, mingled with 
the yells of the soldiers, at the same time as passionate 
sighs and cries were given forth by the two lovers, 
who hastened up in great fear. 

"Ah," said the countess, turning pale from terror, 
"Savoisy is dying for me!" 

"But I will live for you," replied Boys-Bourredon, 
"and shall esteem it a joy to pay the same price for my 
happiness as he has done. " 

"Hide yourself in the clothes chest," cried the count- 
ess; "I hear the constable's footsteps." 

And indeed M. d'Armagnac appeared very soon with 
a head in his hand, and putting it all bloody on the 
mantle-shelf, "Behold, madame," said he, "a picture 
which will enlighten you concerning the duties of a wife 
towards her husband. " 

"You have killed an innocent man," replied the 
countess, without changing color. 

And with this speech she looked proudly at the 
constable with a face marked by so much dissimulation 
and feminine audacity, that the husband stood looking 
as foolish as a girl who has allowed a note to escape 
her, before a numerous company, and he was afraid of 
having made a mistake. 

"Of whom were you thinking this morning?" asked he. 


"I was dreaming of the king," said she. 
"Then, my dear, why not have told me so?" 
"Would you have believed me in the bestial passion 
you were in?" 

The constable scratched his ear and replied : 
"But how came Savoisy with the key of the postern" 
"I don't know/' said she curtly, "if you will have the 
goodness to believe what I have said to you." 

And his wife turned lightly on her heel like a weather- 
cock turned by the wind, pretending to go and look 
after the household affairs. You can imagine that 
d'Armagnac was greatly embarrassed with the head of 
poor Savoisy, and that for his part Boys-Bourredon 
had no desire to cough while listening to the count, 
who was growling to himself all sorts of words. At 
length the constable struck two heavy blows over the 
table and said, "Pll go and attack the inhabitants of 
Poissy. " Then he departed, and when the night was 
come Boys-Bourredon escaped from the house in some 
disguise or other. 

Poor Savoisy was sorely lamented by his lady, who 
had done all that a woman could do to save her lover, 
and later he was more than wept, he was regretted; 
and the countess having related this adventure to Queen 
Isabella, her majesty took Boys-Bourredon to live with 
her, so much was she touched with the qualities and 
firm courage of this gentleman. 

Boys-Bourredon was a man whom danger had well 
recommended to the ladies. In fact, he comported 
himself so proudly in everything in the lofty fortune 
which the queen had made for him, that having badly 
treated King Charles one day when the -poor man was 
in his proper senses, the courtiers, jealous of favor, 
informed the king of his cuckoldom. Then Boys- 


Bourredon was in a moment sewn in a sack and thrown 
into the Seine, near the ferry at Charenton, as every 
one knows. I have no need to add, that since the day 
when the constable took it into his head to play 
thoughtlessly with knives, his good wife utilized so 
well the two deaths he had caused and threw them so 
often in his face, that she made him as soft as a cat's paw 
and put him in the straight road of marriage ; and he pro- 
claimed her a modest and virtuous constable's lady as 
indeed she was. 

As this book should, according to the maxims of 
great ancient authors, join certain useful things to the 
good laughs which you will find therein, and contain 
precept of high taste, I beg to inform you that the 
quintessence of this story is this : That women need 
never lose their heads in serious cases, because the 
God of Love never abandons them, especially when 
they are beautiful, young and of good family; and 
that gallants when going to see a lady should never go 
there like giddy young men, but carefully, and keep a 
sharp look-out near the burrow, to avoid falling into 
certain traps and to preserve themselves ; for after a 
good woman, the most precious thing is, certes, a 
pretty gentleman. 

Droll Stories— 10 


The lord of Valennes, a pleasant place of which the 
castle is not far from the town of Thilouse, had taken 
a mean wife, who by reason of taste or antipathy, 
pleasure or displeasure, health or sickness, allowed her 
good husband to abstain from all social and other 
pleasures. In order to be just, it should be stated that 
the above-mentioned lord was a dirty and ill-favored 
person, always hunting wild animals and not more en- 
tertaining than is a room full of smoke. And what is 
more, the said sportsman was all sixty years of age, on 
which subject, however, he was as silent as an hempen 
widow on the subject of rope. But nature, which the 
crooked, the bandy-legged, the blind, and the ugly abuse 
so unmercifully here below, and have no more esteem 
for her than the well-favored, since, like workers of 
tapestry, they know not what they do, gives the same 
appetite to all, and to all the same mouth for pudding. 
So every beast finds a mate, and from the same fact 
comes the proverb, "There is no pot, however ugly, 
that does not one day find a cover. " Now the lord of 
Valennes often in addition to wild, hunted tame animals ; 
but this kind of game was scarce in the land, and it 
was an expensive affair to discover it. At length, 


however, by reason of much ferreting about and much 
inquiry, it happened that the lord of Valennes was 
informed that in Thilouse was the widow of a weaver 
who had a real treasure in the person of a little damsel 
of sixteen years, whom she had never allowed to leave 
her apron strings. She had her to sleep with her in her 
own bed, watched over her, got her up in the morning, 
and put her to such work that between the twain they 
gained about eight pennies a day. On fete days she 
took her to the church, scarcely giving her a spare 
moment to exchange a merry word with the young 
people ; above all she was strict in keeping hands off the 

But the times were just then so hard that the widow 
and her daughter had only bread enough to save them 
from dying of hunger, and as they lodged with one of 
their poor relations, they often wanted wood in winter 
and clothes in summer, owing enough rent to frighten 
sergeants of justice, men who are not easily frightened 
at the debts of others ; in short, while the daughter was 
increasing in beauty, the mother was increasing in 
poverty and ran into debt on account of her daughter's 
virginity, as an alchemist will for the crucible in which 
his all is cast. As soon as his plans were arranged and 
perfect, one rainy day the said lord of Valennes by a 
mere chance came into the hovel of the two spinners, 
and in order to dry himself sent for some fagots to 
Plessis, close by. While waiting for them, he sat on a 
stool between the two poor women. By means of the 
gray shadows and half light of the cabin, he saw the 
sweet countenance of the maid of Thilouse ; her arms 
were red and firm, her waist round as a young oak, 
and all clean and pretty, like a first frost ; green and 
tender as an April bud ; in fact, she resembled all that 


is prettiest in the world. She had eyes of a modest 
and virtuous blue, with a look more coy than that of 
the Virgin, for she was less forward, never having had 
a child. 

Had any one said to her, "Come, let us make love," 
she would have said, "Love! what is that?" she was 
so innocent and so little open to the comprehension of 
the thing. 

The good old lord twisted about upon his stool, 
eyeing the maid and stretching his neck like a monkey 
trying to catch nuts, which the mother noticed, but 
said not a word, being in fear of the lord, to whom the 
whole of the country belonged. 

When the fagot was put into the grate and flared 
up, the good hunter said to the old woman, "Ah, ah, 
that warms one." 

"But, alas, my lord," said she, "we have nothing to 
cook on that fire." 

"Oh, yes," replied he. 


"Ah, my good woman, lend your daughter to my 
wife, who has need of a good handmaiden ; we will 
give you two fagots every day. " 

"Oh, my lord, what could I cook at such a good 

"Why," replied the old rascal, "good broth, for I 
will give you a measure of corn in season." 

"Then," replied the old hag, "where shall I put it?" 

"In your dish," answered the purchaser of innocence. 

"But I have neither dish nor flour-bin, nor anything. " 

"Well, I will give you dishes and flour-bins, sauce- 
pans, flagons, a good bed with curtains, and every- 


"Yes," replied the good widow, "but the rain would 
spoil them, I have no house." 

"You can see from here," replied the lord, "the house 
of La Tourbelliere, where lived my poor huntsman 
Pille-grain, who was ripped up by a boar?" 

"Yes," said the old woman. 

"Well, you can make yourself at home there for the 
rest of your days. " 

"By my faith," cried the mother, letting fall her 
distaff, "do you mean what you say?" 


"Well, then, what will you give my daughter?" 

"All that she is willing to gain in my service." 

"Oh 1 my lord, you are joking." 

"No," said he. 

"Yes," said she. 

"By St. Gatien, St. Eleuther,* and by the thousand 
million saints who move in heaven, I swear that — " 

"Ah ! well ; if you are not jesting, I should like 
those fagots to pass through the hands of a notary." 

"By the blood of Christ and the charms of your 
daughter, am I not a gentleman? is not my word good 

"Ah ! well, I don't say that it is not ; but as true as 
I am a poor spinner I love my child too much to leave 
her ; she is too young and weak at present, she would 
break down in service. Yesterday, in his sermon, the 
vicar said that we should have to answer to God for 
our children." 

"There! there!" said the lord, "go and find the 
notary. " 

An old woodcutter ran to the scrivener, who came' 
and drew up a contract, to which the lord of Valennes 


put his cross, not knowing how to write, and when all 
was signed and sealed — 

"Well, old lady," said he, "now you are no longer 
answerable to God for the virtue of your child." 

"Ah ! my lord, the vicar said until the age of reason, 
and my child is quite reasonable." Then turning to- 
wards her, she added, "Marie Fiquet, that which is 
dearest to you is your honor, and there where you are 
going every one, without counting my lord, will try to 
rob you of it, but you see well what it is worth ; for 
that reason do not lose it. Now, in order not to con- 
taminate your virtue before God and before man, except 
for a legitimate motive, take heed that your chance of 
marriage be not damagad before hand, otherwise you 
will go to the bad. " 

"Yes, dear mother, " replied the maid. 

And thereupon she left the poor abode of her rela- 
tion, and came to the chateau of Valennes, there to 
serve my lady, who found her both pretty and to her 
taste. When the people of Valennes, Sache, Villaines, 
and other places, learned the high price given for the 
maid of Thilouse, the good housewives, recognizing 
the fact that nothing is moie profitable than virtue, 
endeavored to nourish and bring up their, daughters 
virtuous ; but the business was as risky as that of 
rearing silkworms, which are liable to perish, since inno- 
cence is like a medlar, and ripens quickly on the straw. 

There were, however, some girls in Touraine, who 
passed for virgins in the convents of the religious, but 
I cannot vouch for these. However, Marie Fiquet 
followed the wise counsel of her mother, and would 
take no notice of the soft requests, honeyed words or 
apish tricks of her master, unless they were flavored 
with a promise of marriage. 


When the old lord tried to kiss her, she would put 
her back up like a cat at the approach of a dog, 
crying out, "I will tell madame!" From her labor La 
Fiquet became harder and firmer. Sometimes she would 
reply to the general request of her master, "When you 
have taken it from me will you give it me back again?" 

The old man took these village sayings for flowers of 
innocence, and ceased not to make little signs to her, 
long harangues and a hunderd sermons, for by reason 
of admiring her beauty, this dear man became enamored 
of her with an old man's passion. In order to leave 
this headstrong girl no loophole for refusal, the old lord 
took into his confidence the steward, whose age was 
seventy odd years, and made him understand that he 
ought to marry in order to keep his body warm, and 
that Marie Fiquet was the very girl to suit him. The 
old steward, who had gained three hundred pounds by 
different services about the house, desired to live 
quietly ; but his good master begged him to marry to 
please him, assuring him he need not trouble about 
his wife. So the good steward wandered out of sheer 
good nature into this marriage. The day of the wed- 
ding, bereft of all her reasons, and not able to find ob- 
jections to her pursuer, she made him give her a fat 
settlement and dowry as the price of her conquest, and 
then gave the old knave leave to wink at her as often 
as he could, promising him as many embraces as he 
had given grains of wheat to her mother. 

The festivities over, the lord did not fail, as soon as 
his wife had retired, to wend his way towards the well- 
glazed, well-carpeted, and pretty room where he had 
lodged his lass, his money, his fagots, his house, his 
wheat and his steward. To be brief, know that he 
found the maid of Thilouse the sweetest girl in the 


world, as pretty as anything, by the soft light of the 
fire which was gleaming in the chimney, in her little 
apartment, and he had no regret for the great price of 
this jewel. 

I know not how Marie Fiquet became famous. It is 
still said in our country, "She is maid of Thilouse, " 
in mockery of a bride, and to signify a "fricquenelle. " 

"Fricquenelle" is said of a girl I do not wish to find 
in your arms on your wedding night, unless you have 
been brought up in the philosophy of Zeno, which puts 
up with anything, and there are many people obliged 
to be stoics in this funny situation, which is often met 
with, for nature turns but changes not, and there are 
always good maids of Thilouse to be found in Touraine, 
and elsewhere. Now, if you ask me in what consists, 
or comes in the moral of this tale? I am at liberty to 
reply to the ladies, that the Cent Contes Drolatiques 
are made more to teach the moral of pleasure than to 
procure the pleasure of pointing a moral. But if it 
were a used up old rascal who asked me, I should say 
to him, with all the respect due to his yellow or gray 
locks, that God wished to punish the lord of Valennes, 
for trying to purchase a jewel made to be given. 


At the commencement of the reign of King Henry, 
second of the name, who loved so well the fair Diana, 
there existed still a ceremony of which the usage has 
since become much weakened and which has altogether 
disappeared, like an infinity of the good things of the 
olden times. This fine and noble custom was the choice 
which all knights made of a brother-inarms. After 
having recognized each other as two loyal and brave 
men, each one of this pretty couple was married for life 
to the other; both became brothers, the one had to 
defend the other in battling against the enemies who 
threatened him, and at court against the friends who 
slandered him. In the absence of his companion the 
other was expected to say to one who should have 
accused his good brother of any disloyalty, wickedness, 
or dark felony, " You have lied by your throat," and so 
go into the field instantly, so sure was the one of the 
honor of the other. There is no need to add, that the 
one was always the second of the other in all affairs, 
good or evil, and that they shared all good or evil for- 
tune. They were better than the brothers who are only 
united by the hazard of nature, since they were frater- 
nized by the bonds of an especial sentiment, involuntary 
and mutual, and thus the fraternity of arms has produced 


splendid characters, as brave as those of the ancient 
Greeks, Romans, or others. . . . But this is not my 
subject; the history of these things has been written by 
the historians of our country, and every one knows them. 

Now at this time two young gentleman of Touraine, of 
whom one was the Cadet of Maill<§, and the other Sieur 
de Lavalliere, became brothers-in-arms on the day they 
gained their spurs. They were leaving the house of 
Monsieur de Montmorency, where they had been nour- 
ished with the good doctrines of this great captain, and 
had shown how contagious is valor in such good com- 
pany, for at the battle of Ravenna they merited the 
praises of the oldest knights. It was in the thick of this 
fierce fight that Maille, saved by the said Lavalliere, 
with whom he had a quarrel or two, perceived that 
this gentleman had a noble heart. As they had each 
received slashes in their doublets, they baptized their 
fraternity with their blood, and were ministered to 
together in one and the same bed under the tent of Mon- 
sieur de Montmorency their master. It is necessary to 
inform you that, contrary to the custom of his family, 
which was always to have a pretty face, the Cadet of 
Maill6 was not of a pleasing physiognomy, and had 
scarcely any beauty but that of the devil. For the rest, 
he was lithe as a greyhound, broad shouldered and 
strongly built as King Pepin, who was a terrible antago- 
nist. On the other hand, the Sieur de Chateau-Laval- 
Here was a dainty fellow, for whom seemed to have been 
invented rich laces, silken hose, and cancellated shoes. 
His long dark locks were pretty as a lady's ringlets, and 
he was, to be brief, a child with whom all the women 
would be glad to play. 

Now on his return from Italy the Cadet of Maille 
found the slipper of marriage ready for his foot, the 


which his mother had obtained for him in the person of 
Mademoiselle d'Annebaut, who was a graceful maiden 
of good appearance, and well furnished with everything, 
having a splendid hotel in the Rue Barbette, with hand- 
some furniture and Italian paintings and many consid- 
erable lands to inherit. Some days after the death of 
King Francis — a circumstance which planted terror in the 
hearts of everyone, because his said majesty had died in 
consequence of an attack of the Neapolitan sickness, and 
that for the future there would be no security even with 
princesses of the highest birth — the above-named Maill6 
was compelled to quit the court in order to go and arrange 
certain affairs of great importance in Piedmont. You 
may be sure that he was very loth to leave his good wife, 
so young, so delicate, so sprightly, in the midst of the 
dangers, temptations, snares and pitfalls of this gallant 
assemblage, which comprised so many handsome fellows, 
bold as eagles, proud of mien, and all very fond of 
women. In this state of intense jealousy everything made 
him ill at ease; but by dint of much thinking, it occurred 
to him to make sure of his wife in the manner about to be 
related. He invited his good brother-in-arms to come at 
daybreak on the morning of his departure. Now directly 
he heard Lavalliere's horse in the courtyard, he leaped 
out of the bed, leaving his sweet and fair better half 
sleeping that gentle, dreamy, dozing sleep so beloved by 
dainty ladies and lazy people. Lavalliere came to him, 
and the two companions, hidden in the embrasure of the 
window, greeted each other with a loyal clasp of the 
hand, and immediately Lavalliere said to Maill£: 

" I should have been here last night in answer to thy 
summons, but I had a love-suit on with my lady and I 
could in no way fail to keep it. Shall 1 accompany thee ? 
I have told her of thy departure, she has promised me to 


remain without any amour; we have made a compact. 
If she deceive me — well, a friend is worth more to me 
than is she! " 

"Oh! my good brother," replied Maille, quite over- 
come with these words, "I wish to demand of thee a 
still higher proof of thy brave heart. Wilt thou take 
charge of my wife, defend her against all, be her guide, 
keep her in check, and answer to me for the integrity of 
my head ? Thou canst stay here during my absence, in 
the green-room, and be my wife's cavalier." 

Lavalliere knitted his brow and said: 

" It is neither thee nor thy wife that I fear, but evil- 
minded people, who will take advantage of this to entan- 
gle us like skeins of silk." 

"Do not be afraid of me," replied Maill6, clasping 
Lavalliere to his breast. "If it be the divine will of the 
Almighty that I shall have the misfortune to be a cuckold, 
1 should be less grieved if it were to your advantage. 
But by my faith I should die of grief, for my life is 
bound up in my good, young, virtuous wife." 

Saying which he turned away his head, in order that 
Lavalliere should not perceive the tears in his eyes; but 
the fine courtier saw this flow of water, and taking the 
hand of Maille— 

"Brother," said he to him, "I swear to thee on my 
honor as a man, that before anyone lays a finger on thy 
wife, he shall have felt my dagger in the depth of his 
veins! And, unless I should die, thou shalt find her, on 
thy return, intact in body if not in heart, because thought 
is beyond the control of gentlemen." 

"It is then decreed above," exclaimed Maille^, "that 
I shall always be thy servant and thy debtor! " 

Thereupon the comrade departed, in order not to be 
inundated with the tears, exclamations, and other ex- 


pressions of grief which ladies make use of when saying 
"Farewell." Lavalliere having conducted him to the 
gate of the town, came back to the hotel, waited until 
Marie d'Annebaut was out of bed, informed her of the 
departure of her good husband, and offered to place him- 
self at her orders in such a graceful manner, that the 
most virtuous woman would have been tickled with a de- 
sire to keep such a knight to herself. But there was no 
need of this fine paternoster to indoctrinate the lady, see- 
ing that she had listened to the discourse of the two 
friends, and was greatly offended at her husband's doubt. 
Alas! God alone is perfect! In all the ideas of men 
there is always a bad side, and it is therefore a great sci- 
ence in life, but an impossible science, to take hold of 
everything, even a stick, by the right end. The cause 
of the great difficulty there is in pleasing the ladies is, 
that there is in them a thing which is more woman than 
they are, and but for the respect which is due to them, I 
would use another word. Now, we should never awaken 
the fantasy of this malevolent thing. The perfect gov- 
ernment of women is a task to rend a man's heart, and 
we are compelled to remain in perfect submission to 
them; that is, I imagine, the best manner in which to 
solve the most agonizing enigma of marriage. 

Now Marie d'Annebaut was delighted with the bearing 
and offers of the gallant; but there was something in her 
smile which indicated a malicious idea, and, to speak 
plainly, the intention of putting her young guardian be- 
tween duty and pleasure; to regale him with so much 
love, to surround him with so many little attentions, to 
pursue him with such warm glances, that he would be 
faithless to friendship, to the advantage of gallantry. 

Everything was in perfect trim for the carrying out of 
her design, because of the companionship which the Sire 


de Lavalliere would be obliged to have with her during 
his stay in the hotel, and as there is nothing in the world 
can turn a woman from her whim, at every turn the art- 
ful jade was ready to catch him in a trap. 

At times she would make him remain seated near 
her by the fire, until twelve o'clock at night, singing 
soft refrains, and at every opportunity showing her fair 
shoulders, and casting upon him a thousand piercing 
glances, all without showing in her face the thoughts that 
surged in her brain, 

At times she would walk with him in the morning, in 
the gardens of the hotel, leaning heavily upon his arm, 
pressing it, sighing, and making him tie the laces of her 
little shoes, which were always coming undone in that 
particular place. Then it would be those soft words and 
things which the ladies understand so well, little atten- 
tions paid to a guest, such as coming in to see if he were 
comfortable, if his bed were well made, the room clean, 
if the ventilation were good, if he felt any draughts in 
the night, if the sun came in through the day, and ask- 
ing him to forego none of his usual fancies and habits, 

< < Are you accustomed to eat or drink anything in the 
morning in bed; such as honey, spice or milk ? Do the 
meal-times suit you? I will conform mine to yours: tell 

She accompanied these coddling little attentions with 
a hundred affected speeches; for instance, on coming 
into the room she would say: 

" I am intruding, send me away. You want to be left 
alone — I will go." And always was she graciously invit- 
ed to remain. 

And the cunning madame always came lightly attired, 
which would have made a patriarch neigh, even were he 


as much battered by time as must have been Mr. Methu- 
selah, with his nine hundred and sixty years. 

The good knight being as sharp as a needle, let the 
lady go on with her tricks, much pleased to see her oc- 
cupy herself with him, since it was so much gained; but 
like a loyal brother, he always called her absent husband 
to the lady's mind. 

Now one evening, Lavalliere, suspecting the lady's 
games, told her that Maille loved her dearly, that she 
had in him a man of honor, a gentleman who doted on 
her, and was ticklish on the score of his crown. 

"Why, then, if he is so ticklish in this matter, has he 
placed you here ? " 

< ( Was it not a most prudent thing ? " replied he. i 'Was 
it not necessary to confide you to some defender of your 
virtue? not that it needs one save to protect you from 
wicked men." 

"Then are you my guardian? " said she. 

" I am proud of it ! " exclaimed Lavalliere. 

" Ah ! " said she, "he has made a very bad choice. " 

This remark was accompanied by a little look, so las- 
civious that the good brother-in-arms put on, by way of 
reproach, a severe countenance, and left the fair lady 

She remained in deep meditation, and began to search 
for the real obstacle that she had encountered. Now her 
thoughts knitted and joined together so well, one fitting 
into the other, that out of little pieces she constructed a 
perfect whole, and found herself desperately in love. 

By this means Marie d'Annebaut came to a conclusion 
which she should have known at the commencement — 
viz., that to keep clear of her snares, the good knight 
must be smitten with some other lady, and looking around 
her to see where her young guest could have found a 


suitable companion, she thought of the fair Limeuil, one 
of Queen Catherine's maids, of Mesdames de Nevers, 
d'Estr£es, and de Giac, all of whom were declared friends 
of Lavalliere's, and of the lot he must love one to dis- 

She was certainly more beautiful, young, and more ap- 
petizing and gentle than her rivals; at least, that was 
the melodious decree of her imagination. So, urged on 
by the chords and springs of conscience, she returned to 
the charge to commence a fresh assault upon the heart 
of the chevalier, for the ladies like to conquer that which 
is well fortified; 

Then she became sweetly sociable, and talked to him 
so gently, that one evening when she was in a despond- 
ing state, although merry enough in her inmost soul, her 
guardian-brother asked her: 

< < What is the matter with you ? " 

To which she replied to him dreamily, being listened 
to by him as the sweetest music — 

That she had married MaiHe" against her heart's will, 
and that she was very unhappy; that her husband did 
not understand her, and that her life was full of tears. 
She confessed that in marriage she had experienced noth- 
ing but the reverse of pleasure. And she added, that 
surely this holy state should be full of love, because all 
the ladies hurried into it, and hated and were jealous of 
those who out-bid them, for it cost certain people pretty 
dear; that she to be happy would give her life; but that 
he with whom she was in love would not listen to her; 
that, nevertheless, the secret of their loves might be kept 
eternally, so great was her husband's confidence in him, 
and that finally, if he still refused to love her it would kill 

And all these paraphrases of the common canticle, 


known to the ladies at their birth, were ejaculated be- 
tween a thousand pauses, interrupted with sighs torn 
from the heart, ornamented with appeals to heaven, up- 
turned eyes, sudden blushings and clutchings at her hair. 
In fact, no ingredient of temptation was lacking in the 
dish. The good knight fell at the lady's feet, and weep- 
ing took them and kissed them. But it was written that 
for that evening she should be good, for the handsome 
Lavalliere said to her with despair: 

" Ah, madame, I am an unfortunate man and a wretch." 

"Not at all," said she. 

"Alas, the joy of loving you is denied to me." 

"How?" said she. 

" I dare not confess my situation to you!" 

" Is it then very bad?" 

"Ah, you will be ashamed of me!" 

"Speak, I will hide my face in my hands," and the 
cunning maiden hid her face in such a way that she could 
look at her well-beloved between her fingers. 

"Alas!" said he, "the other evening, when you ad- 
dressed me in such gracious words, I was so excited that 
I ran to a place where all the gentlemen go, and there, 
to save the honor of my brother, whose head I should 
blush to dishonor, I was subjected to such treatment that 
I am in great danger of dying." 

The lady, seized with terror, gave vent to a piercing 
cry and with great emotion, repulsed him with a gentle 
little gesture. Poor Lavalliere, finding himself in so pit- 
iable a state, went out of the room, but he had not even 
reached the tapestries of the door, when Marie 'dAnne- 
baut again contemplated him, saying to herself, "Ah! 
what a pity!" 

And he left her to go to his beautiful Limeuil. So the 
wife of Maille* was compelled to live and only see her 

Droll Stories— 11 


cavalier. Thus occupied, Marie d'Annebaut was forti- 
fied at every point against the gallants of the court, for 
there are no bounds so impassable as those of love, and 
no better guardian; it is like the devil, he whom it has 
in Its clutches it surrounds with flames. One evening, 
Lavalliere having escorted his friend's wife to a dance 
given by Queen Catherine, he danced with the fair Lim- 
euil, with whom he was madly in love. At that time 
the knights carried on their love affairs bravely two by 
two, and even in troops. Now all the ladies were jealous 
of La Limeuil, who at that time was thinking of yielding 
to the handsome Lavalliere. Before taking their places 
in the quadrille, she had promised him a jolly time for 
the morrow, during the hunt. Our great Queen Cathe- 
rine, who from political motives fomented these loves 
and stirred them up, glanced at all the pretty couples in- 
terwoven in the quadrille, and said to her husband: 

" When they combat here, can they conspire against 
you, eh?" 

"Ah! but the Protestants?" 

"Bah! have them here as well," said she laughing. 
"Why, look at Lavalliere, who is suspected to be a 
Huguenot; he is converted by my dear little Limeuil, 
who does not play her cards badly for a young lady of 
sixteen. He will soon have her name down in his list." 

"Ah, madame! do not believe it," said Marie d'Anne- 
baut, "he was ruined In Naples through the same sick- 
ness which made you queen." 

At this artless confession, Catherine, the fair Diana, 
and the king, who were sitting together, burst out laugh- 
ing, and the thing ran round the room. This brought 
endless shame and mockery upon Lavalliere. The poor 
gentleman, pointed at by every one, soon wished some- 
body else In his shoes, for La Limeuil, whom his rivals 


had not been slow laughingly to warn of her danger, ap- 
peared to shrink from her lover. Thus Lavalliere found 
himself abandoned by every one like a leper. The king 
made an offensive remark, and the good knight quitted 
the ballroom, followed by poor Marie in despair at the 
speech. She had in every way ruined the man she loved; 
she had destroyed his honor, and marred his life, since 
the physicians and master-surgeons advanced as a fact, 
incapable of contradiction, that persons Italianized by 
this love-sickness, lost through it their greatest attrac- 
tions, and their bones went black. 

As the handsome knight was very silent and melan- 
choly, his companion said to him on the road home from 
Hercules House; where the fete had been held: 

" My dear lord, I have done you a great mischief." 

"Ah, madame ! " replied Lavalliere, "my hurt is cura- 
ble; but into what a predicament have you fallen ? You 
should not have been aware of the danger of my love." 

"Ah ! " said she, " I am sure now always to have you 
to myself; in exchange for this great obloquy and dishon- 
or, I will be forever your friend, your hostess, and your 
lady-love — more than that, your servant. My determi- 
nation is to devote myself to you and efface the traces of 
this shame; to heal you by watch and ward; and if the 
learned in these matters declare that you are incurable, 
I must still have your company in order to die gloriously. 
Even then," said she, weeping, "that will not be pen- 
ance enough to atone for the wrong I have done you." 

These words were accompanied with big tears; her 
virtuous heart waxed faint, she fell to the ground ex- 
hausted. Lavalliere, terrified, caught her and placed 
his hand upon her heart. The lady revived at the 
warmth of this beloved hand, experiencing such exquisite 
delights as nearly to make her again unconscious. 


" Alas ! " said she, "this sly and superficial caress will 
be for the future the only pleasure of our love. 
Leave your hand there," said she, " verily it is upon my 
soul, and touches it." 

At these words the knight was in a pitiful plight, and 
innocently confessed to the lady that death was prefera- 
ble to this martyrdom. 

"Let us die, then," said she. 

But the litter was in the courtyard of the hotel, and as 
the means of death were not handy, each one slept far 
from the other, heavily weighed down with love, Laval- 
liere having lost his fair Limeuil, and Marie d'Annebaut 
having gained pleasures without parallel. 

From this affair which was quite unforeseen, Lavalliere 
found himself under the ban of love and marriage and 
dared no longer appear in public, and he found how 
much it costs to guard the virtue of a woman, but the 
more honor and virtue he displayed the more pleasure 
did he experience in these great sacrifices offered at the 
shrine of brotherhood. Nevertheless his duty was very 
bitter and intolerable to perform, towards the last days 
of his guard. And in this way. 

The confession of her love which she believed was 
returned, the wrong done by her to her cavalier, embold- 
ened the fair Marie, who fell into a platonic love. From 
this cause sprang the diabolical pleasure of the game in- 
vented by the ladies. To these cruel delights, in order 
properly to play his part, Lavalliere could not refuse his 
sanction. Thus every evening the mournful Marie, hold- 
ing his hands, kissing him with burning glances, her 
cheek pressed gently against his, and during this virtu- 
ous embrace, told him of her great and boundless love. 
All the fire with which ladies endow their substantial 
amours, when the night has no other lights than their 


eyes, she transferred into the mystic motions of her 
head, the exultations of her soul, and the ecstacies of her 
heart. Then, naturally, and with the delicious joy of 
two angels united by thought alone, they intoned together 
those sweet litanies repeated by the lovers of the period 
in honor of love — anthems which the Abbot of Theleme 
has paragraphically saved from oblivion by engraving 
them on the walls of his abbey, situated, according to 
master Alcofribas, in our land of Chinon, where I have 
see them in Latin, and have translated them for the 
benefit of christians. 

"Alas! " said Marie d'Annebaut, "thou art my 
strength and my life, my joy and my treasure." 

"And you," replied he, "you are a pearl, an angel." 

"Thou art my seraphim." 

"You my soul." 

"Thou my God." 

"You my evening star and morning star, my honor, 
my beauty, my universe." 

"Thou my great my divine master." 

"You my glory, my faith, my religion." 

"Thou my gentle one, my handsome one, my coura- 
geous one, my dear one, my cavalier, my defender, my 
king, my love." 

"You my fairy, the flower of my days, the dream of 
my nights." 

"Thou my thought at every moment." 

"You the delight of my eyes." 

"Thou the voice of my soul." 

"You my light by day." 

" Thou my glimmer in the night." 

"You the best beloved among women." 

"Thou the most adored of men." 

s < You my blood, a myself better than myself. " 


"Thou my heart, my lustre." 

"You my saint, my only joy." 

"I yield thee the palm of love, and how great soe'ei 
mine be, I believe thou lovest me still more, for thou art 
the lord." 

"No; the palm is yours, my goddess, my Virgin 

"No; I am thy servant, thine handmaiden, a nothing 
thou canst crush to atoms." 

"No, no; it is I who am your slave, your faithful 
page, whom you use as a breath of air, upon whom you 
can walk as on a carpet. My heart is your throne. " 

"No, dearest, for thy voice transfigures me." 

" Your regard burns me." 

" I love but you." 

" I see but thee." 

"Oh, put thine hand upon my heart — only thine hand 
—and thou wilt see me pale, when my blood shall have 
taken the heat of thine." 

Then during these struggles their eyes, already ardent, 
flamed still more brightly, and the good knight was a 
little the accomplice of the pleasure which Marie d'An- 
nebaut took in feeling his hand upon her heart. Now, 
as in this light embrace all their strength was put forth, 
their ideas of the thing concentrated, it happened that 
the knight's transport reached a climax. Their eyes 
wept warm tears, they seized each other hard and fast 
as fire seizes houses; but that was all. Lavalliere had 
promised to return safe and sound to his friend the body 
only, not the heart. 

When Maille announced his return, it was quite time, 
since no virtue could avoid melting upon this gridiron; 
and the less license the lovers had, the more pleasure 
they had in their fantasies. 


Leaving Marie d'Annebaut, the good companion in 
arms went as far as Bondy to meet his friend, to help 
him to pass through the forest without accident, and the 
two brothers slept together, according to the ancient 
custom, in the village of Bondy. 

There, in their bed, they recounted to each other, one 
the adventures of his journey, the other the gossip of the 
camp, stories of gallantry, and the rest. But Maille"s 
first question was touching Marie d'Annebaut, whom 
Lavalliere swore to be intact; at which the amorous 
MaiHe" was highly delighted. 

On the morrow they were all three reunited, to the 
great disgust of Marie, who with the high jurisprudence 
of women, made a great fuss with her good husband, but 
with her finger she indicated her heart in an artless man- 
ner to Lavalliere, as one who said, "This is thine! " 

At supper Lavalliere announced his departure for the 
wars. Maille" was much grieved at this resolution, and 
wished to accompany his brother; but Lavalliere refused 
him point blank. 

"Madame," said he to Marie d'Annebaut, " I love you 
more than life, but not more than honor." 

He turned pale, saying this, and Madame de Maille 
blanched hearing him, because never in their amorous 
dalliance had there been so much true love as in this 
speech. Maille" insisted upon keeping his friend com- 
pany as far as Meaux. When he came back, he was 
talking over with his wife the unknown reasons and 
secret causes of this departure, when Marie, who sus- 
pected the grief of poor Lavalliere, said, "I know: he 
is ashamed to stop here because he has the Neapolitan 

"He!" said Maille, quite astonished. "I saw him 

1 68 


the other evening and yesterday at Meaux. There's 
nothing the matter with him; he is as sound as a bell." 
The lady burst into tears, admiring this great loyalty, 
the sublime resignation to his oath, and the extreme suf- 
ferings of this internal passion. But as she still kept her 
love in the recesses of her heart, she died when Laval- 
liere fell before Metz, as has been elsewhere related by 
Messire Bourdeilles de Brantome in his tittle-tattle. 


In those days the priests no longer took any woman 
in legitimate marriage, but kept good mistresses as 
pretty as they could get ; which custom has since been 
interdicted by the council/ as everyone knows, because, 
indeed, it was not pleasant that the private confessions 
of people should be retold to a wench who would laugh 
at them, besides the other secret doctrines, ecclesiastical 
arrangements, and speculations which are part and 
parcel of the politics of the Church of Rome. The last 
priest in our country who theologically kept a woman 
in his parsonage, regaling her with his scholastic loves, 
was a certain Vicar of Azay-le-Ridel, a place later on 
most aptly named Azay-le-Brule, and now Azay-le- 
Rideau, whose castle is one of the marvels of Touraine. 

Now this said period is not so far distant as some 
may think, for Monsieur d'Orgemont, son of the pre- 
ceding bishop, still held the see of Paris, and the great 
quarrels of the Armagnacs had not finished. To tell 
the truth, this vicar did well to have his vicarage in 
that age, since he was well shapen, of a high color, 
stout, big, strong, eating and drinking like a convales- 
cent, and, indeed was always rising from a little 
malady that attacked him at certain times ; and, later 


on, he would have been his own executioner, had he 
determined to observe the canonical continence. Add 
to this that he was a Tourainian, id est, dark, and had 
in his eyes flame to light, and water to quench all the 
domestic furnaces that required lighting or quenching ; 
and never since at Azay has been such vicar seen ! A 
handsome vicar was he, square-shouldered, fresh- 
colored, always blessing and chuckling, preferring 
weddings and christenings to funerals, a good joker, 
pious in church, and a man in everything. There have 
been many vicars who have drunk well and eaten well ; 
others who have blessed abundantly and chuckled 
consumedly; but all of them together would hardly 
make up the sterling worth of this aforesaid vicar ; and 
he alone has worthily filled his post with benedictions, 
has held it with joy, and in it has consoled the afflicted, 
all so well, that no one saw him come out of his house 
without wishing to be in his heart, so much was he 
beloved. It was he who first said in a sermon that the 
devil was not so black as he was painted, and who for 
Madame de Cand6 transformed partridges into fish, 
saying that the perch of the Indre were partridges of 
the river, and, on the other hand, partridges perch in 
the air. He never played artful tricks under the cloak 
of morality, and often said, jokingly, that he had plenty 
of everything, and wanted nothing. As for the poor 
and suffering, never did those who came to ask for wool 
at the vicarage go away shorn, for his hand was always 
in his pocket, and. he melted (he who in all else was so 
firm) at the sight of all this misery and infirmity, and 
he endeavored to heal all their wounds. There have 
been many good stories told concerning this king of 
vicars. It was he who caused such hearty laughter at 
the wedding of the lord of Valennes, near Sacche. 


The mother of the said lord had a good deal to do 
with the victuals, roast meats, and other delicacies, of 
which there was sufficient quantity to feed a small 
town at least, and it is true, at the same time, that 
people came to the wedding from Montbazon, from 
Tours, from Chinon, from Langeais, and from every- 
where, and stopped eight days. 

Now, the good vicar, as he was going into the room 
where the company were enjoying themselves, met a 
little kitchen boy, who wished to inform madame that 
all the elementary substances and fat rudiments, syrups 
and sauces, were in readiness for a pudding of great 
delicacy, the secret compilation, mixing and manipula- 
tion of which she wished herself to superintend, intend- 
ing it as a special treat for her daughter-in-law's rela- 
tions. Our vicar gave the boy a tap on the cheek, 
telling him that he was too greasy and dirty to show 
himself to people of high rank, and that he himself 
would deliver the said message. The merry fellow 
pushes open the door, at the same time looking at the 
lady of Valennes and saying to her, "Come, all is 
ready." Those who did not understand what he meant 
burst out laughing to see the madame get up and go 
to the vicar, because she knew he referred to the pud- 
ding, and not to that which the others imagined. 

But a true story is that concerning the manner in 
which this worthy pastor lost his lady companion, to 
whom the ecclesiastical authorities allowed no successor ; 
but as for that, the vicar did not want for domestic 
utensils. One evening the good man came home to 
supper with a melancholy face, because he had just put 
into the ground a good farmer, whose death came about 
in a strange manner and is still frequently talked about 
in Azay. 


Seeing that he only eat with the end of his teeth, 
and turned up his nose at a dish of tripe, which had 
been cooked in his own especial manner, his good 
woman said to him : 

"Have, you passed before the Lombard (see Master 
Cornelius passitn), met two black crows, or seen the 
dead man turn in his grave, that you are so upset?" 

"Oh! oh!" 

"Has anyone deceived you?" 

"Ha! ha!" 

"Come, tell me !" 

"My dear, I am still quite overcome at the death of 
poor Cochegrue, and there is not at the present moment 
a good housewife's tongue or virtuous cuckold's lips 
that are not talking about it. " 

"And what is it?" 

"Listen ! this poor Cochegrue was returning from 
market, having sold his corn and two fat pigs. He was 
riding his pretty mare, who, near Azay, commenced to 
caper about without the slightest cause, and poor Coch- 
egrue trotted and ambled along counting his profits. 
At the corner of the old road of the Landes de Charle 
mange they came upon a stallion kept by the Sieur de 
la Carte, in a field, in order to have a good breed of 
horses, because the said animal was fleet of foot, as 
handsome as an abbot, and so high and mighty that the 
admiral, who came to see it, said it was a beast of the 
first quality. This cursed horse saw the pretty mare ; 
like a cunning beast, neither neighed nor gave vent to 
any equine ejaculation, but when she was close to the 
road, leaped over forty rows of vines and galloped 
after her, pawing the ground with his iron shoes, dis- 
charging the artillery of a lover who longs for an 
meeting, giving forth neighs to set the strongest teeth 


on edge, and so loudly, that the people of Champy 
heard it and were much terrified thereat. Cochegrue, 
suspecting the affair, makes for the moors, spurs his 
mare, relying upon her rapid pace, and indeed the good 
mare understands, obeys and flies — flies like a bird ; 
but a bowshot off follows the blessed horse, thundering 
along the road like a blacksmith beating iron, and at 
full speed, his mane flying in the wind, replying to the 
sound of the mare's swift gallop with his terrible pat~a- 
pan ! pat-a-pan ! Then the good farmer, feeling death 
following him in the love of the beast spurs anew his 
mare, and harder still she gallops, until at last, pale 
and half dead with fear, he reaches the outer yard of his 
farm house, but finding the door of the stable shut he 
cries, 'Help here ! wife !' Then he turned round on his 
mare, thinking to avoid the cursed beast whose body was 
burning, and who was wild with frenzy. His family, 
horrified at the danger, did not go to open the stable- 
door, fearing the strange embrace and the kicks of the 
iron-shod lover. At last Cochegrue's wife went, but 
just as the good mare was half way through the door, 
the cursed stallion siezed her, and at the same time 
knocked about poor Cochegrue, that there was only 
found of him a shapeless mass, crushed like a nut after 
the oil has been distilled from it. It was shocking to 
see him squashed alive and mingling his cries with the 
loud love-sighs of the horse.' 

"Oh ! the mare ! " exclaimed the vicar's good wench. 

"What?" said the priest, astonished. 

"Certainly. You men wouldn't have cracked a plum- 
stone for us." 

"There," answered the vicar, "you wrong me. " The 
good man threw her down angrily and attacked her so 
violently that she died immediately without the aid of 


either surgeons or physicians. You can imagine that he 
was a proud man, and a splendid vicar as has been 
previously stated. 

The good people of the country, even the women, 
agreed that he was not to blame, ^ut that his conduct 
was warranted by the circumstances. 

From this perhaps came the proverb so much in use 
at that time, Que Paze le saillef The which proverb is 
really so much coarser in its actual wording, that out of 
respect for the ladies I will not mention it. But this 
was not the only clever thing this great and noble vicar 
achieved, for before this misfortune he did such a 
stroke of business that no robbers dare ask him how 
many angels he had in his pocket, even had they been 
twenty strong and over to attack him. One evening, 
when his good woman was still with him, after supper, 
during which he had enjoyed his goose, his wine and 
everything, and was reclining in his chair thinking 
where he could build a new barn for the tithes, a 
message came for him from the lord of Sacche, who 
was giving up the ghost and wished to reconcile himself 
with God, receive the Sacrament, and go through the 
usual ceremonies. "He is a good man and loyal lord. 
I will go," said he. Thereupon he passed into the 
church, took the silver box where the blessed bread is, 
rang the little bell himself in order not to wake his 
clerk, and went lightly and willingly along the road. 

Near the Gue-droit, which is a valley leading to the 
Indie across the moors, our good vicar perceived a 
high toby. And what is a high toby? It is a clerk of 
St, Nicholas. Well, what is that? That means a 
person who sees clearly on a dark night, instructs him- 
self by examining and turning over purses, and takes his 
degrees on the high road. Do you understand now? 


Well, then, this high toby waited for the silver box, 
which he knew to be of great value. 

"Oh! oh!" said the priest, putting down the sacred 
vase on a stone at the corner of the bridge, "stop thou 
there without moving." 

Then he walked up to the robber, tripped him up, 
seized his loaded stick, and when the rascal got up to 
struggle with him, he gutted him with a blow well 
planted in the middle of his stomach. Then he 
picked up the viaticum again, saying bravely to it, 
"Ah, if I had relied upon thy providence, we should 
have been lost." Now to utter these impious words 
upon the high road to Sacche was mere waste of breath, 
seeing that he addressed them not to God, but to the 
Archbishop of Tours, who had once severely rebuked 
him, threatened him with suspension, and admonished 
him before the Chapter for having publicly told certain 
lazy people that a good harvest was not due to the grace 
of God, but to skilled labor and hard work — a doctrine 
which smelt of the fagot. And indeed he was wrong, 
because the fruits of the earth have need both of one 
and the other ; but he died in this heresy, for he could 
never understand how crops could come without dig- 
ging, if God so willed it — a doctrine that learned men 
have since proved to be true, by showing that formerly 
wheat grew very well without the aid of man. I can- 
not 4eave this splendid model of a pastor without 
giving here one of the acts of his life, which proves 
with what fervor he imitated the saints in the division 
of their goods and mantles, which they gave formerly 
to the poor and the passers-by. One day returning 
from Tours, where he had been paying his respects to 
the official, mounted on his mule, he was nearing 
Azay. On the way, just outside Ballan, he met a pretty 


girl on foot and was grieved to see a woman travelling 
like a dog ; the more so as she was visibly fatigued, 
and could scarcely raise one foot before the other. He 
whistled to her softly, and the pretty wench turned 
around and stopped. The good priest, who was too 
good a sportsman to frighten the birds, begged her so 
gently to ride behind him on his mule, and in so polite 
a fashion, that the lass got up ; not without making 
those little excuses and grimaces that they all make 
when one invites them to eat, or to take what they 
like. The sheep paired off with the shepherd, the mule 
jogged along after the fashion of mules, while the girl 
slipped now this way, now that, riding so uncomforta- 
bly that the priest pointed out to her, after leaving 
Ballan, that she had better hold on to him ; and im- 
mediately my lady put her plump arms round the waist 
of her cavalier, in a modest and timorous manner. 
"There, you don't slip about now. Are you comfort- 
able?" said the vicar. 

"Yes, I am comfortable. Are you?" 
"I?" said the priest; "I am better than that." 
And, in fact, he was quite at his ease. By degrees 
the movement of the mule brought into conjunction the 
internal warmth of these two good riders, and their 
blood coursed more quickly through their veins, seeing 
that it felt the motion of the mule, and thus the good 
wench and the vicar finished by knowing each other's 
thoughts, but not those of the mule. When they were 
both acclimatized, he with her and she with him, they 
felt an internal disturbance which resolved itself into 
secret desires. 

"Ah!" said the vicar, turning round to his compan- 
ion, "here is a fine cluster of trees which has grown 
very thick. " 


"The trees are damaged," replied the girl; "bad 
boys have cut the branches, and the cows have eaten 
the young leaves." 

"Are you not married?" asked the vicar, trotting his 
animal again. 

"No," said she. 

"Not at all?" 

11 F faith! No!" 

"What a shame, at your age!" 

"You are right, sir ; but you see, a poor girl is a bad 
bargain. " 

Then the good vicar, taking pity on the poor girl, 
and knowing that the canons say, among other things, 
that pastors should indoctrinate their flock and show 
them the duties and responsibilities of this life, he 
thought he would only be discharging the functions of 
his office by showing her the burden she would one day 
have to bear. The good priest had it in his heart to 
thoroughly instruct her, and found his pupil very docile, 
as gentle in mind as soft in the flesh, a perfect jewel. 
Therefore was he much grieved at having so much 
abridged the lesson by giving it at Azay, seeing that 
he would have been quite willing to recommence it, 
like all preceptors who say the same thing over and 
over again to their pupils. 

"Ah, little one," cried the good man, "why did you 
make so much fuss that we only came to an under- 
standing close to Azay?" 

"Ah!" said she, "I belong to Ballan. " 

To be brief, I must tell you that when this good man 
died in his vicarage there was a great number of peo- 
ple, who came, sorrowful, afflicted, weeping and grieved, 
and all exclaimed, "Ah! we have lost our father." And 
the girls, the widows, the wives, and the little girls 

Proll Stories— 13 



looked at each other, regretting him more than a friend, 
and said, "He was more than a priest, he was a man !" 
Of these vicars the seed is cast to the winds, and they 
will never be reproduced in spite of the seminaries. 

Why, even the poor, to whom his savings were left, 
found themselves still the losers, and an old cripple 
whom he had succored hobbled into the churchyard, 
crying, "I don't die! I don't!" meaning to say, "Why 
did not death take me in his place?" This made some 
of the people laugh, at which the shade of the good 
vicar would certainly not have been displeased. 


The fair laundress of Portillon-les-Tours, of whom a 
droll saying has already been given in this book, was a 
girl blessed with as much cunning as if she had stolen 
that of six priests and three women at least. She did 
not want for sweethearts, and had so many that one 
would have compared them, seeing them around her, 
to bees swarming of an evening towards their hive. 
An old silk dyer, who lived in the Rue Montfumier, 
and there possessed a house of scandalous magnificence, 
coming from his place at La Grenadiere, situated on 
the fair borders of St. Cyr, passed on horseback through 
Portillon in order to gain the Bridge of Tours. He was 
seized with a wild desire to marry on seeing the pretty 
washerwoman sitting upon her doorstep. Now as for a 
very long time he had dreamed of this merry maid, 
his resolution was taken to make her his wife, and in a 
short time she was transformed from a washerwoman 
into a dyer's wife, a good townswoman with laces, fine 
linen, and furniture to spare, and was happy in spite of 
the dyer, seeing that -she knew very well how to manage 
him. The good dyer had for a crony a silk machinery 
manufacturer, who was small in stature, deformed for 
life, and full of wickedness. So on the wedding-day he 


said to the dyer, "You have done well to marry, m}? 
friend; we shall have a pretty wife;" and a thousand sly 
jokes, such as it is usual to address to a bridegroom. 

In fact, this said hunchback courted the dyer's wife, 
who from her nature caring little for badly built people, 
laughed to scorn the request of the mechanician, and 
joked him about the springs, engines, and spools of 
which his shop was full. However, this great love of 
the hunchback was rebuffed by nothing, and became so 
irksome to the dyer's wife that she resolved to cure it 
by a thousand practical jokes. One evening she told 
her lover to come to the back door and towards mid- 
night she would open everything to him. Now note, 
this was on a winter's night ; the Rue Montfumier is 
close by the Loire, and in this corner there continually 
blow, in winter, winds sharp as a hundred needle- 
points. The good hunchback, well muffled up in his 
mantle, failed not to come, and trotted up and down 
to keep himself warm while waiting the appointed hour. 

Towards midnight he was half frozen, as fidgety as 
thirty-two devils caught in a stole, and was about to 
give up his happiness, when a feeble light passed by 
the cracks of the window and came down towards the 
little door. 

"Ah, it is she!" said he. 

And this hope warmed him once more. Then he got 
close to the door, and heard a little voice — 

"Are you there?" said the dyer's wife to him. 

"Yes. " 

"Cough, that I may see.'* 

The hunchback began to cough. 

"It is not you." 

Then the hunchback said aloud : 


"How do you mean, it is not T? Do you not recog- 
nize my voice? Open the door!" 

"Who's there?" said the dyer, opening his window. 

"There, you have awakened my husband, who re- 
turned from Amboise unexpectedly this evening." 

Thereupon the dyer, seeing by the light of the moon 
a man at his door, threw a good big pot of cold water 
over him, and cried out, "Thieves! thieves!" in such a 
manner that the hunchback was forced to run away ; 
but in his fear he failed to clear the chain stretched 
across the bottom of the road, and fell into the common 
sewer, which the sheriff had not then replaced by a 
sluice to discharge the mud into the Loire. In this 
bath the mechanician expected every moment to breathe 
his last, and cursed the fair Tascherette, for, her hus- 
band's name being Taschereau, so was she called by 
way of a little joke by the people of Tours. 

Carandas — for so was named the manufacturer of 
machines to weave, to spin, to spool and wind the silk 
— was not sufficiently smitten to believe in the inno- 
cence of the dyer's wife, and swore a devilish hate 
against her. But some days afterwards, when he had 
recovered from his wetting in the dyer's drain, he came 
to sup with his old comrade. Then the dyer's wife rea- 
soned with him so well, flavored her words with so 
much honey, and wheedled him with so many fair prom- 
ises that he dismissed his suspicions. He asked for 
another opportunity, and the fair Tascherette, with the 
face of a woman whose mind is dwelling on the subject, 
said to him, "Come to-morrow evening ; my husband 
will be staying some days at Chenonceaux. The queen 
wishes to have some of her old dresses dyed and would 
settle the colors with him. It will take some time." 

Carandas put on his best clothes, failed not to keep 


the appointment, appeared at the time fixed, and found 
a good supper prepared, lampreys, wine of Vouvray, 
fine white napkins — for it was not necessary to remon- 
strate with the dyer's wife on the color of her linen — 
and everything so well prepared that it was quite pleasant 
for him to see the dishes of fresh eels, to smell the 
good odor of the meats, and to admire a thousand 
nameless little things about the room, and La Tascher- 
ette, fresh and appetizing as an apple on a hot day. 
Now the mechanician, excited to excess by these 
warm preparations, was on the point of attacking the 
charms of the dyer's wife, when Master Taschereau gave 
a loud knock at the street door. 

"Ha!" said madame, "what has happened? Put 
yourself in the clothes-chest, for I have been much 
abused respecting you; and if my husband finds you, 
he may undo you ; he is so violent in his temper. " 

And immediately she thrust the hunchback into the 
chest, and went quickly to her good husband, who she 
knew well would be back from Chenonceaux to supper. 
Then the dyer was kissed warmly on both his eyes and 
on both his ears, and he caught his good wife to him 
and bestowed upon her two hearty smacks with his lips 
that sounded all over the room. Then the pair sat 
down to supper, talked together, and finished by going 
to bed ; and the mechanician heard all they said though 
obliged to remain crumpled up, and not to cough or to 
make a single movement. He was in with the linen, 
crushed up as close as a sardine in a box, and had 
about as much air as he would have had at the bottom 
of a river ; but he had, to divert him, the music of love, 
the sighs of the dyer, and the little jokes of La Tasch- 
erette. At last, when he fancied his old comrade was 
asleep, he made an attempt to get out of the chest. 


"Who is there?" said the dyer. 

"What is the matter, my little one?" said his wife, 
lifting her nose above the counterpane. 

"I heard a scratching," said the good man. 

"We shall have rain to-morrow ; it's the cat, " replied 
his wife. 

The good husband put his head back upon the 
pillow after having been gently embraced by his spouse. 

"There, my dear, you are a light sleeper. It's no 
good trying to make a proper husband of you. There, 
be good. Oh ! oh ! my little papa, your night cap is on 
one side. There, put it on the other way, for you must 
look pretty even when you are asleep. There ! are you 
all right?" 


"Are you asleep?" said she, giving him a kiss. 


In the morning the dyer's wife came softly and let out 
the mechanician, who was whiter than a ghost. 

"Give me air, give me air!" said he. 

And away he ran, cured of his love, but with as 
much hate in his heart as a pocket could hold of black 
wheat. The said hunchback left Tours and went to 
live in the town of Bruges, where certain merchants 
had sent for him to arrange the machinery for making 

During his long absence, Carandas,who had Mootish 
blood in his veins, since he was descended from an 
ancient Saracen left half dead after the great battle 
which took place between the Moors and the French in 
the commune of Ballan (which is mentioned in the 
preceding tale), in which places are the Landes of 
Charlemagne, where nothing grows because of the 
cursed wretches and infidels there -interred, and where 


the grass disagrees even with the cows — this Carandas 
never rose up or lay down in the foreign land without 
thinking of how he could give strength to his desires of 
vengeance ; and he was dreaming always of it, and 
wished nothing less than the death of the fair washer- 
woman of Portillon, and often would cry out, "I will 
eat her flesh ! I will cook one of her breasts and swal- 
low it without sauce !" It was a tremendous hate of 
good constitution — a cardinal hate — a hate of a wasp or 
old maid. It was all known hates moulded into one 
single hate, which boiled itself, concocted itself, and re- 
solved itself into an elixir of wicked and diabolical 
sentiments, warmed at the fire of the most flaming fur- 
naces of hell — it was, in fact, a master hate. 

Now, one fine day, the said Carandas came back into 
Touraine with much wealth that he brought from the 
country of Flanders, where he had sold his mechanical 
secrets. He bought a splendid house in the Rue 
Montfumier, which is still to be seen, and is the aston- 
ishment of the passers-by, because it has certain very 
queer round humps fashioned upon the stones of the 
wall. Carandas, the hater, found many notable changes 
at the house of his friend the dyer, for the good man 
had two sweet children. As it is necessary that child- 
ren bear a resemblance to some one, there are certain 
people who look for the features of their ancestors, 
when they are good looking — the flatterers. So it 
was found by the good husband that his two boys were 
like one of his uncles, formerly a priest at Notre Dame 
de PEgrinolles. Now believe one J:hing } and inculcate 
it in your minds, and when in this book you shall only 
have gleaned, gathered, extracted, and learned this one 
principle of truth, look upon yourself as a lucky man— 
namely, that a man can never dispense with his nose, id 


est, that a man will always be snotty — that is to say, 
he will remain a man and thus continue throughout all 
future centuries to laugh and drink, to find himself in 
his shirt without feeling either better or worse there, 
and will have the same occupations. But these pre- 
paratory ideas are to better fix in the understanding 
that this two-footed soul will always accept as true 
those things which flatter his passions, caress his 
hates, or serve his amours ; from this comes logic. So 
it was that, the first day the above mentioned Carandas 
saw his old comrade's children, saw the handsome 
priest, saw the beautiful wife of the dyer, saw Le 
Taschereau, all seated at the table, and saw to his 
detriment the best piece of lamprey givem with a cer- 
tain air by La Tascherette to her friend the priest, the 
mechanician said to himself, "My old friend is a 
cuckold, his wife intrigues with the little confessor, and 
the children have been begotten by him. I'll show 
them that the hunchbacks have something more than 
other men. " 

And this was true — as true as it is that Tours has 
always had its feet in the Loire, like a pretty girl who 
bathes herself and plays with the water, making a flick- 
flack, by beating the waves with her fair white hands ; 
for this town is more smiling, merry, loving, fresh, 
flowery, and fragrant than all the other towns of the 
world, which are not worthy to comb her locks, or to* 
buckle her waistband. And be sure if you go there you 
will find, in the centre of it, a sweet place, in which is 
a delicious street where every one promenades, where 
there is always a breeze, shade, sun, rain, and love. 
Ha ! ha ! laugh away, but go there. It is a street always 
new, always royal, always imperial — a patriotic street, 
a street with two paths, a street open at both ends, a 


wide street, a street so large that no one has ever cri I, 
"Out of the way!" there. A street which does not 
wear out, a street which leads to the abbey of Grand- 
Mont, and to a trench, which works very well with the 
bridge, and at the end of which is a fine fair ground. A 
street well paved, well built, well washed, as clean as 
a glass, populous, silent at certain times, a coquette 
with a sweet nightcap on in its pretty blue tiles — to be 
short, it is the street where I was born ; it is the queen 
of streets, always between the earth and the sky ; a street 
with a fountain ; a street which lacks nothing to be cele- 
brated among streets ; and, in fact, it is the real street, 
the only street of Tours. If there are others, they are 
dark, muddy, narrow and damp, and all come respect- 
fully to salute this noble street, which commands them. 
Where am I? For once in this street no one cares to 
come out of it, so pleasant it is. But I owe this filial 
homage, this descriptive hymn sung from the heart, to 
my natal street, at the corners of which there are want- 
ing only the brave figures of my good master, Rabelais, 
and of Monsieur Descartes, both unknown to the peo- 
ple of the country. To resume : the said Carandas was, 
on his return from Flanders, entertained by his com- 
rade, and by all those by whom he was liked for his 
jokes, his drollery and quaint remarks. The good 
hunchback appeared cured of his old love, embraced the 
children, and when he was alone with the dyer's wife 
recalled the night in the clothes- chest and the night in 
the sewer, to her memory, saying to her, "Ha. ! ha! 
what games you used to have with me ! " 

"It was your own fault," said she, laughing. "If you 
had allowed yourself by reason of your great love to be 
ridiculed, made a fool of, and bantered a few more 
times, you might have made an impression on me like 


the others." Thereupon Carandas commenced to 
laugh, though inwardly raging all the time. Seeing the 
chest where he had nearly been suffocated, his anger 
increased the more violently because the sweet creature 
had become still more beautiful, like all those who 
are permanently youthful from bathing in the waters of 
^outh, which waters are naught less than the sources 
of love. The mechanician studied the proceedings in 
the way of cuckoldom at his neighbor's house, in order 
to revenge himself, for as many houses as there are 
so many varieties of manner are there in this business \ 
and although all amours resemble each other, in the 
same manner that all men resemble each other ; it is 
proved to the abstractors of true things, that for the 
happiness of women, each love has its especial physi- 
ognomy, and if there is nothing that resembles a man 
so much as a man, there is also nothing differs from a 
man so much as a man. That it is which confuses all 
things, or explains the thousand fantasies of women, 
who seek the best men with a thousand pains and a 
thousand pleasures, perhaps more the one than the 
other. But how can I blame them for their essays, 
changes, and contradictory aims? Why, Nature frisks 
and wriggles* twists and turns about, and you expect a 
woman to remain still ! Do you know if ice is really 
cold? No. Well, then, neither do you know that 
cuckoldom is not a lucky chance, the produce of brains 
well furnished and better made than all others. Seek 
something better than ventosity beneath the sky. This 
will help to spread the philosophic reputation of this 
eccentric book. Oh yes ; go on. He who cries "ver- 
min powder" is more advanced than those who occupy 
themselves with nature, seeing that she is a proud jade 
and a capricious one, and only allows herself to be seen 


at certain times. Do you understand? So in all lan- 
guages does she belong to the feminine gender, being 
a thing essentially changeable and fruitful and fertile in 

Now Carandas soon recognized the fact that among 
cuckoldoms the best understood and the most discreet 
is ecclesiastical cuckoldom. This is how the good 
dyer's wife had laid her plans. She went always 
towards her cottage at Grenadiere-les-St. Cyr on the 
eve of the Sabbath, leaving her good husband to finish 
his work, to count up and check his books, and to pay 
his workmen ; then Taschereau would join her there on 
the morrow, and always found a good breakfast ready 
and his good wife gay, and always brought the priest 
with him. The fact is, this damnable priest crossed 
the Loire the night before in order to see the dyer's 
wife, and to calm her fancies, in order that she might 
sleep well during the night. Then this fine curber of 
fantasies got back to his house in the morning by the 
time Taschereau came to invite him to spend the day 
at La Grenadiere, and the cuckold always found the 
priest asleep in his bed. The boatmen being well paid, 
no one knew anything of these goings on, for the lover 
journeyed the night before after nightfall, and on the 
Sunday in the early morning. As soon as Carandas had 
verified the arrangement and constant practice of these 
gallant diversions, he determined to wait for a day 
when the lovers would meet, hungry one for the other, 
after some accidental abstinence. This meeting took 
place very soon, and the curious hunchback saw the 
boatman waiting below the square at the Canal St. 
Antoine, for the young priest, who was handsome, 
blonde, slender, and well-shaped, like the gallant and 
cowardly hero of love, so celebrated by Monsieur 


Ariosto. Then the mechanician went to find the old 
dyer, who always loved his wife and always believed 
himself the only man who had a finger in the pie. 

"Ah! good evening, old friend," said Carandas to 
Taschereau ; and Taschereau made him a bow. 

Then the mechanician relates to him all the secret 
festivals of love, vomits words of peculiar import, and 
pricks the dyer on all sides. 

At length, seeing he was ready to kill both his wife 
and the priest, Carandas said to him, "My good neigh- 
bor, I have brought back from Flanders a poisoned 
sword, which will instantly kill anyone, if it only makes 
a scratch upon him. Now, directly you shall have 
merely touched your wench and her paramour, they 
will die. " 

"Let us go and fetch it," said the dyer. 

Then the two merchants went in great haste to the 
house of the hunchback, to get the sword and rush off 
to the country. 

"But shall we find them in flagrante delicto?" asked 

"You will see," said the hunchback, jeering to his 
friend. In fact, the cuckold had not long to wait to 
behold the joy of the two lovers. 

The sweet wench and her well-beloved were laugh- 
ing and trying, and on the whole having a jolly good 

"Ah, my darling!" said she, clasping him as though 
she wished to take an outline of him on her chest, "I 
love thee so much I should like to eat thee ! Nay, 
more than that, to own you, so that you might never 
quit me." 

"I should like it too," replied the priest. 

It was at this moment that the husband entered, his 


sword unsheathed and flourished above him. The 
beautiful Tascherette, who knew her lord's face well, 
saw what would be the fate of her well-beloved, the 
priest. But suddenly she sprang towards the good 
man, half naked, her hair streaming over her, beauti- 
ful with* shame, but more beautiful with love, and cried 
to him, "Stay, unhappy man ! Wouldst thou kill the 
father of thy children?" Thereupon the good dyer, 
staggered by the paternal majesty of cuckoldom, and 
perhaps also by the fire of his wife's eyes, let the sword 
fall upon the foot of the hunchback, who had followed 
him, and thus killed him. 

This teaches us not to be spiteful. 


Here ends the first volume of these tales, a roguish 
sample of the works of that merry muse, born ages ago, 
in our fair land of Touraine, the which muse is a good 
wench, and knows by heart that fine saying of her 
friend Verville, written in Le Moyen de Parvenir : It 
is only necessary to be bold to obtain favors. Alas ! mad 
little one, get thee to bed again, sleep ; thou art pant- 
ing from thy journey ; perhaps thou hast been farther 
than the present time. Now dry thy fair naked feet, 
stop thine ears, and return to love. If thou dreamest 
other poesy interwoven with laughter to conclude these 
merry inventions, heed not the foolish clamor and in- 
sults of those who, hearing the carol of a joyous lark of 
other days exclaim : "Ah, the horrid bird!" 







The Three Clerks of St. Nicholas. 

The Continence of King Francis the First. 

The Merry Tattle of the Nuns of Poissy. 

How the Chateau d'Azay came to be Built. 

The False Courtesan. 

The Dear Night of Love. 

The Succubus. 

Despair in Love. 



Certain persons have reproached the author for know- 
ing no more about the language of the olden times than 
hares do of telling stories. Formerly these people would 
have been vilified, called cannibals, churls, and syco- 
phants, and Gomorrah would have been hinted at as 
their natal place. But the author consents to spare them 
these flowery epithets of ancient . criticism; he contents 
himself with wishing not to be in their skin, for he would 
be disgusted with himself, and esteem himself the vilest 
of scribblers thus to calumniate a poor little book which 
is not in the style of any spoil-paper of these times. Ah! 
ill-natured wretches! you should save your breath to cool 
your own porridge! The author consoles himself for his 
want of success in not pleasing everyone by remember- 
ing that an old Tourainian, of eternal memory, had to 
put up with such contumely that, losing all patience, he 
declared in one of his prologues that he would never more 
put pen to paper. Another age, but the same manners. 
Nothing changes, neither God above nor men below. 
Therefore the author continues his task with a light 
heart, relying upon the future to reward his heavy labors. 

And, certes, it is a hard task to invent a hundred 
droll tales, since not only have ruffians and envious 


men opened fire upon him, but his friends have imitated 
their example, and come to him saying, " Are you mad? 
Do you think it possible? No man ever had in the 
depths of his imagination a hundred such tales. Change 
the hyperbolic title of your budget. You will never fin- 
ish it." These people are neither misanthropes nor can- 
nibals; whether they are ruffians I know not; but for cer- 
tain they are kind, good-natured friends; friends who 
have the courage to tell you disagreeable things all your 
life long, who are rough and sharp as currycombs, under 
the pretence that they are yours to command, in all the 
mishaps of life, and in the hour of extreme unction all 
their worth will be known. If such people would only 
keep to these sad kindnesses, but they will not. When 
their terrors are proved to have been idle, they exclaim 
triumphantly, "Ha! ha! I knew it. I always said so." 
In order not to discourage fine sentiments, intolerable 
though they be, the author leaves to his friends his old 
shoes, and in order to make their minds easy, assures 
them that he has, legally protected and exempt from 
seizure, seventy droll stories in that reservoir of nature, 
his brain. By the gods! they are precious yarns, well 
rigged out with phrases, carefully furnished with catas- 
trophies, amply clothed with original humor, rich in 
diurnal and nocturnal effects, not lacking that plot which 
the human race has woven each minute, each hour, each 
week, month and year of the great ecclesiastical compu- 
tation, commenced at a time when the sun could scarcely 
see, and the moon waited to be shown her way. These 
seventy subjects which he gives you leave to call bad 
subjects, full of tricks and impudence, lust, lies, jokes, 
jests and ribaldry, joined to the two portions here given, 
are, by the prophet! a small instalment of the aforesaid 


Were it not now a bad time for bibliopolists, biblioma- 
niacs, bibliographers and bibliotheques which hinder bib- 
liolatry, he would have given them in a bumper, and not 
drop by drop as if he were afflicted with disury of the 
brain. He cannot possibly be suspected of this infirmity, 
since he often gives good weight, putting several stories 
into one, as is clearly demonstrated by several in this 
volume. You may rely on it, that he has chosen for the 
finish the best and most ribald of the lot, in order that 
he may not be accused of a senile discourse. Put, then, 
more likes with your dislikes, and dislikes with your 
likes. Forgetting the niggardly behavior of nature to 
story-tellers, of whom there are not more than seven per- 
fect in the great ocean of human writers, others, although 
friendly, have been of opinion that, at a time when every 
one went about dressed in black, as if in mourning for 
something, it was necessary to concoct; works either 
wearisomely serious, or seriously wearisome; that a 
writer could only live henceforward by enshrining his 
ideas in some vast edifice, and that those who were una- 
ble to reconstruct cathedrals and castles of which neither 
stone nor cement could be moved, would die unknown, 
like the pope's slippers. These friends were requested 
to declare which they liked best, a pint of good wine, or 
a tun of cheap rubbish; a diamond of twenty-two carats, 
or a flint-stone weighing a hundred pounds; the ring of 
Hans Carvel, as told by Rabelais, or a modern narrative 
pitifully expectorated by a schoolboy. Seeing them 
dumbfounded and abashed, it was calmly said to them, 
u Do you thoroughly understand, good people? Then 
go your ways, and mind your own businesses." 

The following, however, must be added, for the bene- 
fit of all whom it may concern: — The good man to whom 
We owe fables and stories of sempiternal authority has 


only used his tool on them, having taken his material 
from others; but the workmanship expended on these 
little figures has given them a high value; and although 
he was, like M. Louis Ariosto, vituperated for thinking 
of idle pranks and trifles, there is a certain insect en- 
graved by him which has since become a monument of 
perennity more assured than that of the most solidly 
built works. In the especial jurisprudence of wit and 
wisdom, the custom is to esteem more dearly a leaf 
wrested from the book of nature and truth, than all the 
different volumes from which, however fine they be, it is 
impossible to extract either a laugh or a tear. The 
author has license to say this without any impropriety, 
since it is not his intention to stand upon tip-toe in order 
to obtain an unnatural height, but because it is a ques- 
tion of the majesty of his art, and not of himself — a poor 
clerk of the court, whose business it is to have ink in his 
pen, to listen to the gentlemen on the bench, and take 
down the sayings of each witness in this case. He is 
responsible for the workmanship, nature for the rest, 
since from the Venus of Phidias the Athenian, down to 
the little old fellow Godenot, commonly called the Sieur 
Breloque, a character carefully elaborated by one of the 
most celebrated authors of the present day, everything 
is studied from the eternal model of human imitations 
which belongs to all. At this honest business, happy 
are the robbers that are not hanged, but esteemed and 
beloved. But he is a triple fool, a fool with ten horns 
on his head, who struts, boasts, and is puffed up at an 
advantage due to the hazard of dispositions, because 
glory lies only in the cultivation of the faculties, in 
patience and courage. 

As for the soft-voiced and pretty-mouthed ones, who 
have whispered delicately in the author's ear, complain- 


ing to him that they have disarranged their tresses and 
spoiled their petticoats in certain places, he would say 
to them, "Why did you go there?" To these remarks 
he is compelled, through the notable slanders of certain 
people, to add a notice to the well disposed, in order 
that they may use it, and the calumnies of the afore- 
said scribblers concerning him. 

These droll tales are written — according to all authori- 
ties — at that period when Queen Catherine, of the house 
of Medicis, was hard at work; for during a great portion 
of the reign, she was always interfering with public 
affairs to the advantage of our holy religion. The which 
time has siezed many people by the throat, from our de- 
funct master, Francis, first of the name, to the Assembly 
at Blois, where fell M. de Guise. Now, even school- 
boys who play at chuck-farthing, know that at this period 
of insurrections, pacifications and disturbances, the lan- 
guage of France was a little disturbed also, on account 
of the inventions of the poets, who at that time, as at 
this, used each to make a language for himself, besides . 
the strange Greek, Latin, Italian, German and Swiss 
words, foreign phrases and Spanish jargon introduced 
by foreigners, so that a poor writer has plenty of elbow- 
room in this Babelish language, which has since been 
taken in hand by Messieurs de Balzac, Blaise Pascal, 
Furetiere, Menage, St. Evremond, de Malherbe and 
others, who first cleaned out the French language, sent 
foreign words to the rightabout, and gave the right of 
citizenship to legitimate words used and known by every 
one, but of which the Sieur Ronsard was ashamed. 

Having finished, the author returns to his lady-love, 
wishing every happiness to those by whom he is beloved; 
to the others, misfortunes according to their deserts. 
When the swallows fly homeward, he will come again, 


not without the third and fourth volume, which he here 
promises to the Pantagruelists, merry knaves, and hon- 
es* wags of all degrees, who have a wholesome horror 
of the sadness^ somber meditation and melancholy of 
literary croakers. 


The Inn of the Three Barbels was formerly at Tours, 
the best place in the town for sumptuous fare; and the 
landlord, reputed the prince of cooks, went to prepare 
wedding breakfasts as far as Chattelherault, Loches, Ven- 
dome, and Blois. The said man, an old fox, perfect in 
his business, never lighted lamps in the daytime, knew 
how to skin a flint, charged for wool, leather, and 
feathers, had an eye to everything, did not easily let any 
one pay with chaff instead of coin, and for a penny less 
than his account would have affronted even a prince. 
For the rest, he was a good banterer, drinking and laugh- 
ing with his regular customers, hat in hand always before 
the persons furnished with plenary indulgences entitled 
Sit nomen Domini benedictum, running them into expense, 
and proving to them, if need were, by sound argument, 
that wines were dear, and that whatever they might 
think, nothing was given away in Touraine, everything 
had to be bought, and, at the same time, paid for. In 
short, if he could without disgrace have done so, he 
would have reckoned so much for the good air, and so 
much for the view of the country. Thus he built up a 
tidy fortune with other people's money, became as round 
as a ball,larded with fat, and was called monsieur. At the 



time of the last fair three young fellows, who were ap- 
prentices in knavery, in whom there was more of the ma- 
terial that makes thieves than saints, and who knew just 
how far it was possible to go without catching their necks 
in the branches of trees, made up their minds to amuse 
themselves> and live well, condemning certain hawkers 
or others in all the expenses. Now these limbs of Satan 
gave the slip to their masters, under whom they had 
been studying the art of parchment scrawling, and came 
to stay at the Hotel of the Three Barbels, where they 
demanded the best rooms, turned the place inside out, 
turned up their noses at everything, bespoke all the 
lampreys in the market, and announced themselves as 
first-class merchants, who never carried their goods with 
them, and traveled only with their persons. The host 
bustled about, turned the spits, got out the best of 
everything, and prepared a glorious repast for these 
three dodgers, who had already made noise enough for a 
hundred crowns, and who most certainly would not even 
have given up the copper coins which one of them was 
jingling in his pocket. But if they were hard up for 
money they did not want for ingenuity, and all three 
arranged to play their parts like thieves at a fair. 
Theirs was a farce in which there was plenty of eating 
and drinking, since for five days they so heartily attacked 
every kind of provision, that a party of German soldiers 
would have spoilt less than they obtained by fraud. 
These three cunning fellows made their way to the fair 
after breakfast, well primed, gorged, and did as they 
liked with the greenhorns and others, robbing, filching, 
playing and losing, taking down the writings and signs 
and changing them, putting that of the toyman over the 
jeweler's and that of the jeweler outside the shoemaker's, 
turning the shops inside out, making the dogs fight, cut- 


ting the ropes of tethered horses, throwing cats among 
the crowd, crying "Stop thief!" and saying to every 
one they met, "Are you not Monsieur D'Entrefesse, of 
Angiers? " Then they hustled every one, making holes 
in the sacks of flour, looking for their handkerchiefs in 
ladies' pockets, raising their skirts, crying, looking for a 
lost jewel, and saying to them: 

"Ladies, it has fallen into a hole! " 

They directed the little children wrongly, slapped the 
stomachs of those who were gaping in the air, and 
prowled about, fleecing and annoying every one. In 
short, the devil would have been a gentleman in com- 
parison with these blackguard students, who would have 
been hanged rather than do an honest action; as well 
have expected charity from two angry litigants. They 
left the fair, not fatigued but tired of ill-doing, and spent 
the remainder of their time over their dinner until the 
evening, when they recommenced their pranks by torch- 
light. After the peddlers they commenced operations on 
the ladies of the town, to whom, by a thousand dodges, 
they gave only that which they received according to 
the axiom of Justinian: Cuicum jus tribuere, "To every 
one his own juice;" and afterward jokingly said to the 
poor wenches: 

"We are in the right and you in the wrong." 

At last, at supper-time, having nothing else to do, 
they began to knock each other about, and to keep the 
game alive, complained of the flies to the landlord, 
remonstrating with him that elsewhere the innkeepers 
had them caught in order that gentlemen of position 
might not be annoyed with them. However, towards 
the fifth day, which is the critical day of fevers, the host 
not having seen, although he kept his eyes wide open, 
the royal surface of a crown, and knowing that if all that 


glittered were gold it would be cheaper, began to knit 
his brows and go more slowly about that which his high 
class merchants required of him. Fearing that he had 
made a bad bargain with them, he tried to sound the 
depth of their pockets; perceiving which the three 
clerks ordered him, with the assurance of a provost 
hanging his man, to ..serve them quickly with a good 
supper, as they had to depart immediately. Their 
merry countenances dismissed the host's suspicions. 
Thinking that rogues without money would certainly 
look grave, he prepared a supper worthy a canon, wish- 
ing even to see them drunk, in order the more easily to 
clap them into jail in the event of an accident. Not 
knowing how to make their escape from the room, in 
which they were about as much at their ease as are fish 
upon straw, the three companions ate and drank immod- 
erately, looking at the situation of the windows, waiting 
the moment to decamp, but not getting the opportunity. 
Cursing their luck, one of them wished to go and undo 
his waistcoat in the garden, on account of a colic, the 
other to fetch a doctor to the third, who did his best to 
faint. The cursed landlord kept dodging about from the 
kitchen into the room, and from the room into the kitch- 
en, watching the nameless ones, going a step forward to 
save his crowns, and a step back to save his crown, in 
case they should be real gentlemen; and he acted like a 
brave and prudent host who likes halfpence and objects 
to kicks; but under pretence of properly attending to 
them, he always had an ear in the room and a foot in the 
court; fancied he was always being called by them, came 
every time they laughed, showing them a face with an 
unsettled look upon it, and always said, "Gentlemen, 
what is your pleasure?" This was an interrogatory in 
reply to which they would willingly have given him ten 



inches of his own spit in his stomach, because he ap- 
peared as if he knew very well what would please them 
at this juncture, seeing that to have twenty crowns, full 
weight, they would each of them have sold a third of his 
eternity. Already the host had put the pears, the cheese, 
and the preserves near their noses, but they, sipping 
their liquor and picking at the dishes, looked at each 
other to see if either of them had found a good piece of 
roguery in his sack, and they all began to enjoy them- 
selves rather wofully. The most cunning of the three 
clerks, who was a Burgundim, smiled and said, seeing 
the hour of payment arrived, "This must stand over for 
a week," as if they had been at the Palais de Justice. 
The two others, in spite of the danger, began to laugh. 

"What do we owe? " asked he who had in his belt the 
heretofore mentioned twelve sols, and he turned them 
about as though he would make them breed little ones 
by this excited movement. He was a native of Picardy, 
and very passionate; a man to take offence at anything 
in order that he might throw the landlord out of the win- 
dow in all security of conscience. Now he said these 
words with the air of a man of immense wealth. 

"Six crowns, gentlemen," replied the host, holding 
out his hand. 

"I cannot permit myself to be entertained by you 
alone, viscount," said the third student, who was from 
Anjou, and as artful as a woman in love. 

"Neither can I," said the Burgundian. 

"Gentlemen! gentlemen! " replied the Picardian, "you 
are jesting. I am yours to command." 

"Sambreguoy! " cried he of Anjou, "You will not 
let us pay three times. Our host would not suffer it. " 

" Well, then," said the Burgundian, "whichever of us 
shall tell the worst tale shall satisfy the landlord. " 


"Who will be the judge?" asked the Picardian, drop- 
ping his twelve sols to the bottom of his pocket. 

"Pardieu! our host He should be capable, seeing 
that he is a man of taste," said he of Anjou. "Come 
along, great chef, sit you down, drink, and lend us both 
your ears. The audience is open." 

Thereupon the host sat down, but not until he had 
poured out a good gobletful of wine. 

" My turn first," said the Anjou man. "I commence. 

"In our duchy of Anjou, the country people are very 
faithful servants to our holy Catholic religion, and none 
of them would lose his portion of paradise for lack of do- 
ing penance or killing a heretic. If a professor of heresy 
passed that way, he quickly found himself under the 
grass, without knowing whence his death had proceeded. 
A good man of Larz6, returning one night from his even- 
ing prayer to the wine-flasks of the Pomme-de-Pin, where 
he had left his understanding and memory, fell into a 
ditch full of water near his house, and found he was up 
to his neck. One of the neighbors finding him shortly 
afterwards nearly frozen, for it was winter time, said jok- 
ingly to him: 

" ' Holla! what are you waiting for there? ' 

<"A thaw/ said the tipsy fellow, finding himself held 
by the ice. 

i < Then Godenot, like a good christian, released him 
from his dilemma, and opened the door of the house to 
him, out of respect to the wine, which is lord of this 
country. The good man then went by mistake to the 
maid-servant, who was a young and pretty wench. The 
old bungler, bemuddled with wine, fancied all the time 
it was his wife by his side. On hearing her husband, the 
wife began to cry out, and by her horrible shrieks the 
man was awakened to the fact that he was not in the road 


to salvation, which made the poor laborer sorrowful be- 
yond expression. 

" 'Ah!' said he, 'God has punished me for not going 
to vespers at church. '" 

"And he began to excuse himself as best he could, 
saying that the wine had muddled his understanding, 
and that for his best cow he would not have had this 
sin upon his conscience. 

"'My dear/ said she, 'go and confess the first thing 
to-morrow morning, and let us say no more about it.' 

"The good man trotted to confessional, and related his 
case with all humility to the rector of the parish, who was 
a good old priest. " 

"'An error is not a sin/ said he to the penitent. 
'You will fast to-morrow, and be absolved.' 

"'Fast! — with pleasure,' said the good man. 'That 
does not mean go without drink.' 

" 'Oh!' replied the rector, 'you must drink water, and 
eat nothing but a quarter of a loaf and an apple.' 

"Then the good man, who had no confidence in his 
memory, went home, repeating to himself the penance or 
dered. But having loyally commenced with a quarter 
of a loaf and an apple, he arrived at home, saying, a 
quarter of apples and a loaf. 

"Then to purify his soul, he set about accomplish- 
ing his fast, and his good woman having given him a 
loaf from the safe, and unhooked a string of apples from 
the beam, he set sorrowfully to work. As he heaved 
a sigh on taking the last mouthful of bread, hardly know- 
ing where to put it, for he was full to the chin, his wife 
remonstrated with him that God did not desire the death 
of a sinner, and that for lack of eating a crust of bread, 
he would not be reproached for his wrong doings. " 


" ' Hold your tongue, wife!' said he. < If it chokes me 
I must fast. ' 

" I've paid my share, it's your turn, viscount, " added 
he of Anjou, giving the Picardian a knowing wink. 

"The goblets are empty. Hi, there! More wine. " 

"Let us drink," cried the Picardian. "Moist stories 
slip out easier." 

At the same time he tossed off a glassful without leav- 
ing a drop at the bottom, and after a preliminary lit- 
tle cough, he related the following: 

"You must know that the maids of Picardy, before 
setting up housekeeping, are accustomed honestly to gain 
their linen, vessels, and chests; in short, all the needed 
household utensils. To accomplish this, they go into 
service in Peronne, Abbeville, Amiens, and other towns, 
where they are tire-women, wash up glasses, clean plates, 
fold linen, and carry up the dinner, or anything that 
there is to be carried. These women are the best house- 
wives, because they understand housekeeping, and ev- 
erything else thoroughly. One belonging to Azonville, 
which is the land of which I am lord by inheritance, 
having heard speak of Paris, where the people did not put 
themselves out of the way for any one, and where one 
could subsist for a whole day by passing the cooks' shops 
and smelling the steam, so fattening was it, took it into 
her head to go there. She trudged bravely along the 
road, and arrived with a pocket full of emptiness. There 
she fell in, at the Porte St. Denis, with a company of sol- 
diers placed there for a time as a vedette, for the Pros- 
testants had assumed a dangerous attitude. The ser- 
geant seeing this hooded linnet coming, stuck his head- 
piece on one side, straightened his feather, twisted his 
moustache, cleared his throat, rolled his eye, put his 
hands on his hips, and stopped the Picardian to see if her 


ears were properly pierced, since it was forbidden to 
girls to enter otherwise into Paris. Then he asked by 
way. of a joke, but with a serious face, what brought 
her there, he pretending to believe she had come to take 
the keys of Paris by assault. To which the poor innocent 
replied that she was in search of a good situation, and had 
no evil intentions, only desiring to gain something. 

" 'Very well; I will employ you/ said the wag, <I am 
from Picardy, and I will get you taken in here, where 
you will be treated as a queen would be, and you will be 
able to make a good living.' 

"Then he led her to the guard-house, where he told 
her to sweep the floor, polish the saucepans, stir the fire, 
and keep a watch on everything, adding that she should 
have thirty sols a head for the men if their service pleas- 
ed her. Now seeing that the squad was there for a 
month, she would be able to gain ten crowns, and at 
their departure would find fresh arrivals who would make 
good arrangements with her, and by this means she 
would be able to take back money and presents to her 
people. The girl cleaned the room and prepared the 
meals so well, singing and humming, that this day the 
soldiers found in their den the look of a monk's refectory. 
Then all being well content, each of them, gave a sol to 
their handmaiden. Well satisfied, they put her into the 
bed of their commandant, who was in the town with his 
lady, and they petted and caressed her after the manner 
of philosophical soldiers. In the morning, seeing that 
the soldiers were fast asleep, she rose happy, and al- 
though slightly fatigued, managed to get across the fields 
into the open country with thirty earned sols. On the 
route to Picardy she met one of her friends, who, like 
herself, wished to try service in Paris, and was hurrying 

Droll Stories— U 


thither, and seeing her, asked what sort of places they 

" <Ah! Perrine; do not go. You want to be made oi 
iron, and even if you were you would soon wear out/' 
was the answer. 

"Now," said he, giving his neighbor a hearty slap, 
"spit out your story or pay ! " 

"By the queen of Antlers ! " replied the Burgundian, 
"by my faith, by the saints, by God ! and by the devil, 
I know only stories of the Court of Burgundy, which are 
only current coin in our own land." 

"Eh, ventre Dieu ! are we not in the land of Bauffre- 
mont ? " cried the other, pointing to the empty goblets. 

" I will tell you, then, an adventure well known at 
Dijon, which happened at the time I was in command 
there, and was worth being written down. There was a 
sergeant of justice named Franc-Taupin, who was an old 
lump of mischief, always grumbling, always fighting; 
stiff and starchy, and never comforting those he was 
leading to the hulks, with little jokes by the way; and, 
in short, he was just the man to find lice in bald heads, 
and bad behavior in the Almighty. This said Taupin, 
spurned by every one, took unto himself a wife, and by 
chance he was blessed with one as mild as the peel of an 
onion, who, noticing the peculiar humor of her husband, 
took more pains to bring joy to his house than would 
another to bestow horns upon him. But although she 
was careful to obey him in all things, and to live at 
peace, would have tried to pilfer gold for him, had 
God permitted it; this man was always surly and crab- 
bed, and no more spared his wife blows than does a 
debtor promises to the bailiff's man. This unpleasant 
treatment continuing in spite of the carefulness and 
angelic behavior of the poor woman, she being unable to 


accustom herself to it, was compelled to inform her rela- 
tions, who thereupon came to the house. When they 
arrived, the husband declared to them that his wife was 
an idiot, that she displeased him in every possible way 
and made his life almost unbearable; that she would 
wake him out of his first sleep, never came to the door 
when he knocked, but would leave him out in the rain 
and cold, and that the house was always untidy. His 
garments were buttonless, his laces wanted tags. The 
linen was spoiling, the wine turning sour and the wood 
was damp. In short everything was going wrong. To 
this tissue of falsehoods the wife replied by pointing to 
the clothes and things all in a state of thorough repair. 
Then the sergeant said that he was very badly treated, that 
his dinner was never ready for him, or if it was, the 
broth was thin or the soup cold, either the wine or the 
glasses were forgotten, the meat was without gravy or 
parsley, the mustard had turned, he either found hairs 
in the dish or the cloth was dirty and took away his 
appetite, indeed nothing did she ever get for him that 
was to his liking. The wife, astonished, contented her- 
self by stoutly denying the faults imputed to her. e Ah/ 
said he, 'you dirty hussy ! You deny it, do you ! Very 
well then, my friends, you come and dine here to-day, 
you shall be witnesses of her misconduct. And if she 
can for once serve me properly, I will confess myself 
wrong in all I have stated, and will never lift my hand 
against her again, but will be resigned to my halberd 
and my breeches, and give her full authority here.' 

' Oh, well,' said she, joyfully, < I shall then henceforth 
be both wife and mistress! ' 

"Then the husband, confident of the nature and im- 
perfections of his wife, desired that the dinner should be 
served under the vine arbor, thinking he would be able 


to shout at her if she did not hurry quickly enough from 
the table to the pantry. The good housewife set to work 
with a will. The plates were clean enough to see one's 
face in, the mustard was fresh and well made, the dinner 
beautifully cooked, as appetizing as stolen fruit; the 
glasses were clear, the wine was cool, and everything so 
nice, so clean and white, that the repast would have 
done honor to a bishop's chatterbox. Just as she was 
standing before the table, casting that last glance which 
all good housewives like to give to everything, her hus- 
band knocked at the door. At that very moment a fowl 
who had taken it into her head to get on the top of the 
arbor to gorge herself with grapes, by mistake committed 
a grave offense. The poor woman was half dead with 
fright; so great was her despair, that she, thinking of no 
other remedy, made a covering with a plate, on which 
she put the fine fruits taken at random from her pocket, 
losing sight altogether of the symmetry of the table. 
Then, in order that no one should notice it, she instantly 
fetched the soup, seated everyone in his place, and 
begged them to enjoy themselves. 

"Now, all of them, seeing everything so well arranged, 
uttered exclamations of pleasure, except the diabolical 
husband, who remained moody and sullen, knitting his 
brows and looking for a straw on which to hang a quarrel 
with his wife. Thinking it safe to give him one for him- 
self, her relations being present, she said to him, ' Here's 
your dinner, nice and hot, well served, the cloth is clean, 
the salt-cellars full, the plates clean, the wine fresh, the 
bread well baked. What is there lacking ? What do 
you require ? What do you desire ? What else do you 
want ? ' 

" 'Oh, filth! ' said he, in a great rage. 

"The good woman instantly lifted the plate, and replied: 


" 'You shall have it, my dear! ? 

"Seeing which, the sergeant was dumbfounded, think- 
ing that the devil was in league with his wife. He was 
immediately gravely reproached by the relations, who 
declared him to be in the wrong, abused him, and made 
more jokes at his expense than a recorder writes words 
in a month. From that time forward the sergeant lived 
comfortably and peaceably with his wife, who at the 
least appearance of temper on his part, would say to 

" 'Do you want some filth ? ' " 

"Who has told the worst now?" cried the Anjou man, 
giving the host a tap on the shoulder. 

"He has! he has! " said the two others. Then they 
began to dispute among themselves, like the holy fathers 
in council; seeking, by creating a confusion, throwing 
the glasses at each other and jumping about, a lucky 
chance to make a run of it. 

"I'll settle the question,," cried the host, seeing that 
whereas they had all three been ready with their own ac- 
counts, not one of them was thinking of his. 

They stopped terrified. 

"I will tell you a better one than all, then you will 
have to give me ten sols a head." 

"Silence for the landlord," said the one from Anjou. 

Thereupon the host proceeded to narrate a story which 
surpassed all previous attempts. 

The clerks roared with laughter, holding their sides 
and complimenting their host. 

"Did you ever hear a better story, viscount?" 

"Ah, what a story!" 

"That is a story!" 

"A master story!" 

< The king of stories! " 



"Ha! ha! It beats ail the other stories hollow. After 
that I say there are no stories like the stories of our 

"By the faith of a christian, I never heard a better 
story in my life." 

"Why, I can hear the report. " 

" I should like to kiss the orchestra." 

"Ah, gentlemen," said the Burgundian gravely, "we 
cannot leave without seeing the hostess; it is out of re- 
spect for so good a story-teller." 

Thereupon they all exalted the host, his story, and his 
wife so well that the old fellow, believing in these knaves' 
laughter and pompous eulogies, called to his w r ife. But 
she not coming, the clerks said, not without frustrative 
intention, "Let us go to her." 

Thereupon they all went out of the room. The host 
took the candle and went upstairs first, to light them and 
show them the way; but seeing the street door ajar, the> 
rascals took to their heels, and were off like shadows, 
leaving the host to take in settlement of his account an- 
other of his wife's offerings. 


Everyone knows through what adventures King 
Francis, the first of that name, was taken like a silly 
bird and led into the town of Madrid, in Spain. There 
the emperor, Charles V kept him carefully locked up 
like an article of great value, in one of his castles, in 
which our defunct sire, of immortal memory soon 
became listless and weary, seeing that he loved the open 
air and no more understood being shut up in a cage 
than a cat would folding up lace. He fell into such 
moods of strange melancholy that his letters having 
been read in full council, Madame d'Angouleme, his 
mother, Madame Catherine, the Dauphine, Monsieur 
de Montmorency, and those who were at the head of 
affairs in France, knowing the great lechery of the 
king, determined after mature deliberation, to send 
Queen Marguerite to him, from whom he would doubt- 
less receive alleviation of his sufferings, that good lady 
being much loved by him, and merry, and learned in all 
necessary wisdom. But she, alleging that it would be 
dangerous for her soul, because it was impossible for 
her, without great danger, to be alone with the king in 
his cell, a sharp secretary, the Sieur de Fizes, was sent 


to the Court of Rome, with orders to beg of the Pontiff 
a papal brief of special indulgence containing proper ab- 
solutions for the petty sins which, looking at their con 
sanguinity, the said queen might commit with a view 
1 to cure the king's melancholy. 

At this time Adrian VI, the Dutchman, still wore 
the tiara, who, a good fellow, for the rest did not forget, 
in spite of the scholastic ties which united him to the 
emperor, that the eldest son of the Catholic Church 
was concerned in the affair, and was good enough to 
send to Spain an express legate, furnished with full 
powers, to attempt the salvation of the queen's soul, 
and the king's body, without prejudice to God. This 
most urgent affair made the gentlemen very uneasy, and 
caused an itching in the feet of the ladies, who, from 
great devotion to the crown, would all have offered to 
go to Madrid, but for the dark distrust of Charles the 
Fifth, who would not grant the king permission to see 
any of his subjects, nor even the members of his family. 
It was therefore necessary to negotiate the departure of 
the queen to Navarre. Then, nothing else was spoken 
about but this deplorable abstinence, and the lack of exer- 
cise so vexatious to a prince who was much accustomed 
to it. In short, from one thing to another, the women 
finished by thinking more of the king's condition than 
of the king himself. The queen was the first to say 
that she wished that she had wings. To this Monsieg- 
neur Odet de Chatillon replied, that she had no need of 
them to be an angel. One, that was Madame l'Amirale, 
blamed God that it was not possible to send by a 
messenger that which the poor king so much required. 

"God has done very well to fix it," said the 
Dauphine, quietly ; "for our husbands would leave us 
rather badly off during their absence." 


So much was said and so much thought upon the sub- 
ject, that at her departure the Queen of all Marguerites 
was charged by these good christians, to kiss the 
captive heartily for all the ladies of the realm ; and if 
it had been permissible to prepare pleasure like 
mustard, the queen would have been laden with enough 
to sell to the two castles. 

While Madame Marguerite was, in spite of the snow, 
crossing the mountains, by relays of mules, hurrying 
on to these consolations as to a fire, the king found 
himself harder pressed by unsatisfied desire than he 
ever had been before, or would be again. In this 
reverberation of nature, he opened his heart to the Em- 
peror Charles in order that he might be provided with 
a merciful specific, urging upon him that it would be 
an everlasting disgrace to the king to let another die 
for lack of gallantry. The Castilian showed himself to 
be a generous man. Thinking that he would be able 
to recuperate himself for the favor granted out of his 
guest's ransom, he hinted quietly to the people com- 
missioned to guard the prisoner, that they might gratify 
him in this respect. 

Thereupon, a certain Don Hiios de Lara y Lopez 
Barra di Ponto, a poor captain, whose pockets were 
empty in spite of his genealogy, and who had been for 
some time thinning of seeking his fortune at the court 
of France, fancied that by procuring his majesty a 
cataplasm of flesh, he would open for himself an 
honestly fertile door; and, indeed those who know the 
character of the good king and his court, can decide if 
he deceived himself. 

When the above-mentioned captain came in his turn 
into the chamber of the .French king he asked him 
respectfully if it was his good pleasure to permit him 


an interrogation on a subject concerning which he was 
as curious as about papal indulgences? To which the 
prince, casting aside his hypochondriacal demeanor, 
and twisting round on the chair in which he was 
seated, gave a sign of consent. The captain begged 
him not to be offended at the license of his language, 
and confessed to him that he, the king, was said to be 
one of the most amorous men in France, and he would 
be glad to learn from him if the ladies of his court were 
expert in the science of love. The poor king, calling 
to mind his many adventures, gave vent to a deep- 
drawn sigh, and exclaimed, that no woman of any 
country, including those of the moon, knew better than 
the ladies of France the secrets of this alchemy. 

Saying which, this good king, a ribald fellow, if ever 
there was, shot forth so fiercely life and light from 
his eyes, that the captain, although a brave man, felt 
a quaking in his inside, so fiercely flamed the sacred 
majesty of royal love,. But recovering his courage he 
began to defend the Spanish ladies, declaring that in 
Castile alone was love properly understood, because it 
was the most religious place in Christendom, and the 
more fear the women had of damning themselves by 
yielding to a lover, the more their souls were in the 
affair. He further added that if the lord king would 
wager one of the best and most profitable manors in 
the kingdom of France, he would give him a Spanish 
night of love. 

"Done," said the king, jumping up from his chair. 
"I will give thee, by God, the manor of Ville-aux- 
Dames in my province of Touraine, with full privilege 
of high and low jurisdiction. " 

Then the captain, who was acquainted with the donna 
of the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, requested her to 


smother the King of France with kindness, and demon- 
strate to him the great advantage of the Castilian 
imagination over the simple actions of the French. To 
which the Marchesa of Amaesguy consented for the 
honor of Spain. Thus she came, covering the king 
with caresses in a manner that would have killed any 
other man. But the above named lord was so well 
furnished, so greedy, and so well bitten, that he no 
longer felt a bite ; and from this love affair the marchesa 
emerged abashed, believing that she had had the devil 
to confess. 

The captain, confident in his agent, came to salute 
his lord, thinking to do homage for his fief. There- 
upon the king said to him, in a jocular manner, that 
the Spanish ladies were passable, and their system a 
fair one, but that when gentleness would suffice they 
substituted frenzy ; in short, that the embrace of a 
Frenchwoman brought back the drinker more thirsty 
than ever ; and that, with the ladies of his court, love 
was a gentle pleasure without parallel. 

The poor captain was strangely piqued at this 
language. In spite of the nice sense of honor which the 
king pretended to possess, he fancied that his majesty 
wished to bilk him like a student stealing a slice of love 
at a brothel in Paris. Nevertheless, not knowing for 
the matter of that, if the marchesa had not over-span- 
ished the king, he demanded his revenge from the 
captive, pledging him his word, that he should have for 
certain a veritable fay, and that he would yet gain the 
fief. The king was too courteous and gallant a knight 
to refuse this request, and even made a pretty and right 
royal speech, intimating his desire to lose the wager. 
Then, after vespers, the guard passed fresh and warm 
into the king's chamber, a lady most dazzlingly white— 


most delicately wanton, with long tresses and velvet 
hands, filling out her dress at the least movement, for 
she was gracefully plump, with a laughing mouth, and 
eyes moist in advance ; a woman to beautify hell, and 
whose first word had such cordial power, that the king's 
garment was cracked by it. On the morrow, after the 
fair one had slipped out after the king's breakfast, the 
good captain came radiant and triumphant into the 

At sight of him the prisoner exclaimed : 

'Baron de la Ville-aux-Dames ! God grant you joys 
like to mine ! I like my goal ! By'r lady, I will not 
judge between the love of our lands, but pay the wager. " 

"I was sure of it," said the captain. 

"How so?" said the king. 

"Sire, it was my wife." 

This was the origin of Larray de la Ville-aux-Dames in 
our country, since, from corruption of the names, that 
of Lara-y Lopez, finished by becoming Larray. It was 
a good family, delighting in serving the kings of 
France, and it multiplied exceedingly. Soon after, the 
Queen of Navarre came in due course to the king, who, 
weary of Spanish customs, wished to disport himself 
after the fashion of France ; but the remainder is not the 
subject of this narrative. I reserve to myself the right 
to relate elsewhere how the legate managed to sponge 
the sin of the thing off the great slate, and the delicate 
remark of our Queen of Marguerites, who merits a 
saint's niche in this collection ; she who first concocted 
such good stories. The morality of this one is easy to 

In the first place, kings should never let themselves 
be taken in battle any more than their archetype in the 
game of the Grecian chief Palamedes. But from this, 


it appears the captivity of its king is a most calamitous 
and horrible evil to fall upon the populace. If it had 
been a queen, or even a princess, what worse fate? 
But I believe the thing could not happen again, 
except with cannibals. Can there ever be a reason for 
imprisoning the flower of the realm? I think too well 
of Ashtaroth, Lucifer, and others, to imagine that, did 
they reign, they would hide the joy of all the beneficent 
light, at which poor sufferers warm themselves. And 
it was necessary that the worst of devils, id est, a 
wicked old heretic woman, should find herself upon a 
throne, to keep a prisoner sweet Mary of Scotland, to 
the shame of all the knights of Christendom, who should 
have come to the foot of Fotheringay, and have left 
thereof no single stone. 


The Abbey of Poissy has been rendered famous by 
old authors as a place of pleasure, where the miscon- 
duct of nuns first began, and whence proceeded so 
many good stories calculated to make laymen laugh at 
the expense of our holy religion. The said abbey by 
this means became fertile in proverbs, which none of 
the clever folks of our day understand, although they 
sift and chew them in order to digest them. 

If you ask one of them what the olives of Poissy are, 
they will answer you gravely that it is a periphrase 
relating to truffles, and that the way to serve them, of 
which one formerly spoke, when joking with these 
virtuous maidens, meant a peculiar kind of sauce. 
That's the way these scribblers hit on truth once in a 
hundred times. Certain jokers reproached them with 
imitating the lives of the saints, in their own fashion, 
and said that all they admired in Mary of Egypt was 
her fashion of paying the boatman. From whence the 
raillery, To honor the saints after the fashion of Poissy. 
There is still the crucifix of Poissy, which kept the stom- 
ach warm ; and the matins of Poissy which concluded with 
a little chorister. Finally, of a hearty jade, well ac- 

With the ladies of his court, love was a^entto pleasure, without parallel. 


quainted with the ways of love, it was said — She is a mm 
of Poissy, That property of a man which he can only 
lend was The key of the Abbey of Poissy. What the gate 
of the said abbey was can easily be guessed. This gate, 
door, wicket, opening, or road was always half open 
and was easier to open than to shut. In short, at that 
period, there was no fresh device in love invented, that 
had not its origin in the good convent of Poissy. You 
may be sure that there is a good deal of untruth and 
hyperbolical emphasis, in these proverbs, jests, jokes, 
and idle tales. 

The nuns of the said Poissy were good young ladies, 
who now this way, now that, cheated God to the profit 
of the devil, as many others did, which was but natural ; 
and although they were nuns, they had their little 
imperfections. But the truth of the matter is, all these 
wickednesses were the deeds of an abbess who had four- 
teen children. The fantastic amours and the wild con- 
duct of this woman, who was of royal blood, caused 
the convent of Poissy to become fashionable ; and 
thereafter no pleasant adventure happened in the abbeys 
of France which was not credited to these poor girls, 
who would have been well satisfied with a tenth of 
them. Then the abbe}' was reformed, and these holy 
sisters were deprived of the little happiness and liberty 
which they had enjoyed. In an old cartulary of the 
abbey of Tourpenay, near Chinon, which in these later 
troublous times had found a resting place in the library 
of Azay, where the custodian was only too glad to 
receive it, I met with a fragment under the head of 
The Hours of Poissy, which had evidently been put 
together by a merry abbot of Tourpenay for the diver- 
sion of his neighbors of Usse, Azay, Mongaugar, Sac- 
chez, and other places of this province. I give them 


under the authority of the clerical garb, but altered to 
my own style, because I have been compelled to turn 
them from Latin into French. I commence : — At 
Poissy the nuns were accustomed, when mademoiselle, 
the king's daughter, their abbess, had gone to bed 
It was she who first called it faire la petite 
oie, to stick to the preliminaries of love, the prologues, 
prefaces, protocols, warnings, notices, introductions, 
summaries, prospectuses, arguments, notes, epigraphs, 
titles, false titles, current titles, scholia, marginal re- 
marks, frontispieces, observations, gilt edges, book- 
marks, reglets, vignettes, tail-pieces and engravings, 
without once opening the merry book to read, re-read, 
and study to apprehend and comprehend the contents. 
And she gathered together in a body all these extra-ju- 
dicial little pleasures of that sweet language, which 
comes indeed from the lips, yet makes no noise, and 
practiced them so well, that she died a virgin. This 
gay science was afterward deeply studied by the ladies 
of the court. But to continue : When this virtuous 
princess was gone to bed, the said girls (those whose 
cheeks were unwrinkled and their hearts gay) would 
steal noiselessly out of their cells, and hide themselves 
in that of one of the sisters who was much liked by 
all of them. There they would have cosy little chats, 
enlivened with sweetmeats, pasties, liqueurs, and girlish 
quarrels, worry their elders, imitating them grotesquely, 
innocently mocking them, telling stories that made them 
]&ugh till the tears came, and playing a thousand pranks. 
At times they would measure their feet, to see whose 
were smallest, compare the white plumpness of their 
arms, see whose nose had the infirmity of blushing after 
supper, count their freckles, dispute whose complexion 
was the clearest, whose hair the prettiest color, and 


whose figure the best. You can Imagine that among 
these figures sanctified to God there were fine ones, 
stout ones, lank ones, thin ones, plump ones, supple 
ones, shrunken ones, and figures of all kinds. Then 
they would quarrel among themselves as to who took 
the least stuff to make a girdle, and she who spanned 
the least was pleased without knowing why. At times 
they would relate their dreams, and what they had seen 
in them. Often one or two, at times all of them, had 
dreamed they had tight hold of the keys of the abbey. 
Then they would consult each other about their little ail- 
ments. One had scratched her finger, another had a 
whitlow, this one had risen in the morning with the 
white of her eye bloodshot ; that one had put her finger 
out, telling her beads. All had some little thing the 
matter with them. 

"Ah! you have lied to our mother; your nails are 
marked with white," said one to her neighbor. 

"You stopped a long time at confession this morning, 
sister/' said another, : 'you must have had a good 
many little sins to confess. ' 

As there is nothing resembles a pussy-cat so much 
as a tom-cat, they would swear eternal friendship, 
quarrel, sulk, dispute, and make it up again ; would be 
jealous, laugh and pinch, pinch and laugh, and play 
tricks upon the novices. 

At times they would say, "'Suppose a gendarme came 
here one rainy day, where should we put him? 

"In Sister Ovide's room, it is so big he could get into 
it with his helmet on. " 

"What do you mean?" cried Sister Ovide, "are not 
all our cells alike?" 

Thereupon my girls burst out laughing like ripe figs. 
One evening they increased their council by a little 

Droll Stories— 18 


novice, about seventeen years of age, who appeared 
innocent as a new-born babe, and would have had the 
host without confession. This maiden's mouth, had 
long watered for these secret confabulations, little 
feasts and rejoicings by which the young nuns softened 
the holy captivity of their bodies, and had wept at not 
being admitted to them. "Well," said Sister Ovide to 
her, "have you had a good night's rest, little one?" 

"Oh, no!" said she, "I have been bitten by fleas." 

"Ha! you have fleas in your cell? But you must get 
rid of them at once. Do you know how the rules of 
our order enjoin them to be driven out, so that never 
again during her conventual life shall a sister see so 
much as the tail of one?" 

"No," replied the novice. 

"Well, then, I will teach you. Do you see any fleas 
here? do you notice any trace of fleas? do you smell 
an odor of fleas? Is there any appearance of fleas in 
my cell? Look !" 

"I can't find any," said the little novice, who was 
Mademoiselle de Fiennes, "and smell no other odor 
than our own. " 

"Do as I am about to tell you, and be no more bitten. 
Directly you feel yourself bitten, you must strip your- 
self and look for the flea in good faith, without paying 
any attention to other things ; trying only to catch the 
flea, which is a difficult job, as it may easily deceive 
you. " 

The nuns hardly being able to restrain their laughter 
Sister Ovide went on- — 

"The above-mentioned flea will jump from your legs 
to your eyes, endeavoring to escape you ; but the rules 
of the house order you courageously to pursue, repeat- 
ing aves. Ordinarily at the third ave the beast is taken. " 


"The flea?" asked the novice. 

"Certainly, the flea," replied Sister Ovide ; "but in 
order to avoid the dangers of this chase you must be 
careful to put your finger directly on the beast. 

. . Then, without regarding its cries, plaints, groans, 
efforts and writhings and the rebellion which frequently 
it attempts you will press it under your thumb or other 
finger of the hand engaged in holding it and with the 
other hand you will search for a veil to bind this flea's 
eyes and prevent it from leaping, as the beast seeing no 
longer clearly will not know where to go. Neverthe- 
less as it will still be able to bite you and will be 
getting terribly enraged, you must gently open its 
mouth and delicately insert therein a twig of the blessed 
brush that hangs over your pillow. Thus the beast 
will be compelled to behave properly. But, remember, 
that the discipline of our order allows you to retain no 
property, and the beast cannot belong to you. You 
must take into consideration that it is one of God's 
creatures, and strive to render it more agreeable. 

"Now," went on Sister Ovide, "if it be a male flea, 
you take your scissors, or your lover's dagger, if by 
chance he has given you one as a souvemir, previous 
to your entry into the convent. In short, furnished 
with a cutting instrument, you carefully slit open the 
flanks of the flea. Expect to hear him howl, cough, 
spit, beg your pardon ; to see him twist about, sweat, 
make sheep's eyes, and anything that may come into 
his head to put off this operation. But be not aston- 
ished ; pluck up courage, by thinking that you are 
acting thus to bring a perverted creature into the way 
of salvation. Then you will dexterously take the reins, 
the liver, the heart, the gizzard and noble parts and dip 
them all several times into the holy water washing and 


purifying them there at the same time imploring the 
Holy Ghost to sanctify the interior of the beast. After- 
wards you will replace all these intestinal things in the 
body of the flea, who will be anxious to get them back 
again. Being by this means baptized, the soul of the 
creature has become Catholic. Immediately you will 
get a needle and thread, and sew up the cut with great 
care, with such regard and attention as is due to a fellow 
christian ; you will even pray for it — a kindness to 
which you will see it is sensible by its genuflexions 
and the attentive glances which it will bestow upon 
you. In short, it will cry no more and have no further 
desire to kill you; and fleas are often encountered who 
die from pleasure at being thus converted to our holy 
religion. You will do the same to all you can catch ; 
and the others, perceiving it after staring at the con- 
vert will go away, so perverse are they and so terrified 
at the idea of becoming christians. " 

"And they are, therefore, wicked," said the novice. 
'Is there any greater happiness than to be in the 
bosom of the church?" 

"Certainly," answered Sister Ursula, "here we are 
sheltered from the dangers of the world and of love, 
in which there are so many." 

"Is there any danger of sickness?" asked a young 

"During the present reign," replied Ursula, raising 
her head, "love has inherited leprosy, St. Anthony's 
fire, the Ardennes sickness, and the red rash, and has 
heaped up all the fevers, agonies, drugs, and sufferings 
of the lot in his pretty mortar, to draw out therefrom a 
terrible complaint, of which the devil has given the 
receipt, luckily for convents, because there are a great 


number of frightened ladies, who become virtuous for 
fear of this love. " 

Thereupon they all huddled up close together, alarmed 
at these words, but wishing to know more. 

"And is it enough to love to suffer?" asked a sister. 

"Oh, yes!" cried sister Ovide. 

"You love just for one little once a pretty gentle- 
man," replied Ursula, "and you have the chance of 
seeing your teeth go, one by one, your hair fall off, 
your cheeks grow pallid, and your eyebrows drop, and 
the disappearance of your prized charms will cost you 
many a sigh. The pope has at last been compelled to 
excommunicate this kind of love. " 

"Ah ! how lucky I am to have had nothing of the 
sort, " cried the novice. 

Hearing this souvenir of love, the sisters suspected 
that the little one had gone astray through the heat of 
a crucifix of Poissy, and had been joking with the sister 
Ovide, and drawing her out. All congratulated them- 
selves on having so merry a jade in their company, and 
asked her to what adventure they were indebted for that 
pleasure. "Ah ! "said she, "I let myself be bitten by 
a big flea who had not been baptized. " 

"Is it true that you knew in her lifetime that sister 
Petronille, on whom God bestowed the gift of only 
going twice a year to the bank of deposit?" asked 
Sister Ursula. 

"Yes," replied Ovide, "and one evening it happened 
she had to remain there until matins, saying, T am 
here by the will of God.' But at the first verse she 
was delivered, in order that she should not miss the 
office. Nevertheless, the late abbess would not allow 
that this was an especial favor, granted from on high, 
and said that God did not look so low. Here are the 


facts of the case : Our defunct sister, whose canoniza- 
tion the order are now endeavoring to obtain at the 
court of the pope, and would have had it if they could 
have paid the proper costs of the papal brief ; this 
Petronille, then, had an ambition to have her name 
included in the calendar of saints, which was in no way 
prejudicial to our order. She lived in prayer alone, 
would remain in ecstacy before the altar of the Virgin, 
which is on the side of the fields, and pretend so dis- 
tinctly to hear the angels flying in Paradise, that she 
was able to hum the tunes they were singing. You all 
know that she took from them the chant of Adoremus, 
of which no man could have invented a note. She re- 
mained for days with her eye fixed like a star, fasting, 
and putting no more nourishment into her body than 
I could into my eye. She had made a vow never to 
taste meat, either cooked or raw, and ate only a crust 
of bread a day ; but on great feast days she' would add 
thereto a morsel of salt fish, without any sauce. On 
this diet she became dreadfully thin, yellow as saffron, 
and dry as an old bone in a cemetery ; for she was of 
an ardent disposition, and any one who had fell against 
her, would have drawn fire as from a flint. However, 
little as she ate, she could not escape an infirmity to 
which, luckily or unluckily, we are all more or less 
subject. According to the old sisters, her nature was 
so burning, that when water touched her, she went 
frist ! like a hot coal. There are sisters who have 
accused her of secretly cooking eggs in the night, 
between her toes, in order to support her austerities. 
But these were scandals, invented to tarnish this great 
sanctity of which all the other nunneries were jealous. 
Our sister was piloted in the way of salvation and 
divine perfection by the Abbot of St. Germain-des-Pres 


de Paris — a hply man, who always finished his injunc- 
tions with a last one, which was to offer to God all our 
troubles, and submit ourselves to His will, since nothing 
happened without His express commandment. This 
doctrine, which appears wise at first sight, has furnished 
matter for great controversies, and has been finally 
condemned on the statement of the Cardinal of Chatil- 
lon, who declared that then there would be no such 
thing as sin, which would considerably diminish the 
revenues of the church. But Sister Petronille lived 
imbued with this feeling, without knowing the danger 
of it. 

I cannot leave them without relating an adventure 
which took place in their house, when Reform was 
passing a sponge over it, and making them all saints, 
as before stated. At that time, there was in the 
episcopal chair of Paris a veritable saint, who did not 
brag about what he did, and cared for naught but the 
poor and suffering, whom the dear old bishop lodged 
in his heart, neglecting his own interests for theirs, 
and seeking out misery in order that he might heal it 
with words, with help, with attentions, and with money, 
according to the case ; as ready to solace the rich in 
their misfortune as the poor, patching up their souls 
and bringing them back to God ; and tearing about hither 
and thither, watching his troop, the dear shepherd ! 
Now the good man went about careless of the state of 
his cassocks, mantles and breeches, so that the naked 
members of his church were covered. He was so char- 
itable that he would have pawned himself, to save an 
infidel from distress. His servants were obliged to look 
after him carefully. Ofttimes he would scold them 
when they changed unasked his tattered vestments for 
new j and he used to have them darned and patched, 


as long as they would hold together. Now this good 
archbishop knew that the late Sieur de Poissy had left 
a daughter, without a sou or a rag, after having eaten, 
drunk and gambled away her inheritance. This poor 
young lady lived in a hovel, without fire in winter or 
cherries in spring, and did needlework, not wishing 
either to marry beneath her or sell her virtue. Awaiting 
the time when she should be able to find a young hus- 
band for her, the prelate took it into his head to send 
her the outside case of one to mend, in the person of 
his old breeches, a task which the young lady, in her 
present position, would be glad to undertake. One 
day that the archbishop was thinking to himself that he 
must go to the convent of Poissy, to see after the re- 
formed inmates, he gave to one of his servants the 
oldest of his nether garments, which was sorely in need 
of stitches, saying, "Take this, Saintot, to the young 
ladies of Poissy," meaning to say, "the young lady of 
Poissy. " Thinking of affairs connectd with the cloister, 
he did not inform his varlet of the situation of the lady's 
house, her desperate condition having been by him 
discreetly kept a secret. Saintot took the breeches and 
went his way towards Poissy, gay as a grass-hopper, 
stopping to chat with friends he met on the way, slak- 
ing his thirst at the wayside inns, and showing many 
things to the breeches during their journey that might 
hereafter be useful to them. At last he arrived at the 
convent, and informed the abbess that his master had 
sent him to give her these articles. Then the varlet 
departed, leaving with the reverend mother the garment 
accustomed to model in relief the archiepiscopal pro- 
portions of the continent nature of the good man, 
according to the fashion of the period, besides the 
image of those things of which in the good prelate did 


not want for amplitude. Madame the abbess having 
informed the sisters of the precious message of the good 
archbishop, they came in haste, curious and hustling 
as ants into whose republic a chestnut husk has fallen. 
When they undid the breeches, which gaped horribly, 
they shrieked out, covering their eyes with one hand, 
the abbess exclaiming, "Hide yourselves, my daughters • 
This is the abode of mortal sin!" 

The mother of the novices, giving a little look be- 
tween her fingers, revived the courage of the holy 
troop, swearing by an ave that no living head was 
domiciled in the breeches. Then they all blushed at 
their ease, while examining this Habitavit, thinking 
that perhaps the desire of the prelate was that they should 
discover therein some sage admonition or evangelical 
parable. Although this sight caused certain ravages in 
the hearts of these most virtuous maidens, they paid 
little attention to the fluttering of their reins. It had 
even been pretended that, their first stir over, the abbess 
found a voice sufficiently firm to say, "What is there at 
the bottom of this? With what idea has our father 
sent us that which consummates the ruin of women?" 

"It's fifteen years, dear mother, since I have been 
permitted to gaze upon such a scene. " 

"Silence, my daughter. You prevent me thinking 
what is best to be done. " 

Then so much were these archiepiscopal breeches 
turned and twisted about, admired and re-admired, 
pulled here, pulled there, turned inside out — so much 
were they talked about, fought about, thought about, 
dreamed about, night and day, that on the morrow a 
little sister said, after having sung the matins, to which 
the convent had a verse and two responses — "Sister I 
have found out the parable of the archbishop. He has 


sent us as a mortification his garments to mend, as a 
holy warning to avoid idleness, the mother abbess of 
all the vices. " 

Thereupon there was a scramble to get hold of the 
breeches ; but the abbess, using her high authority, 
reserved to herself the meditation over this patchwork.. 
She was occupied during ten days, praying and sewing 
the said breeches, lining them with silk, and making 
double hems, well sewn, and in all humility. Then 
the chapter being assembled, it was arranged that the 
convent should testify by a pretty souvenir to the said 
archbishop their delight that he thought of his daugh 
ters in God. Then all of them, to the very youngest, 
had to do some work on these blessed breeches, in order 
to do honor to the virtue of the good man. 

Meanwhile the prelate had had so much to attend to, 
that he had forgotten all about his garment. This is 
how it came about. He made the acquaintance of a 
noble of the court, who, having lost his wife — a she- 
fiend and sterile — said to the good priest that he had a 
great ambition to meet with a virtuous woman, con- 
fiding in God, with whom he was not likely to quarrel. 
Such a one he desired to hold by the hand and have 
confidence in. Then the holy man drew such a picture 
of Mademoiselle de Poissy, that this fair one soon 
became Madame de Genoilhac. The wedding was 
celebrated at the archiepiscopal palace, where was a feast 
of the first quality, and a table bordered with ladies of 
the highest lineage, and the fashionable world of the 
court, among whom the bride appeared the most 
beautiful, since it was certain that she was a virgin, 
the archbishop guaranteeing her virtue. 

When the fruits, conserves, and pastry were, with 
many ornaments, arranged on the cloth, Saintot said to 


the archbishop, "Monseigneur, your well -beloved daugh- 
ters of Poissy send you a fine dish for the centre. " 

"Put it there," said the good man, gazing with 
admiration at an edifice of velvet and satin, embroid- 
ered with wire ribbon, in the shape of an ancient vase, 
the lid of which exhaled a thousand superfine odors. 

Immediately the bride, uncovering it, found therein 
sweetmeats, cakes, and those delicious confections to 
which the ladies are so partial. But one of them — 
some curious devotee — seeing a little piece of silk, 
pulled it towards her, and exposed to view the habita- 
tion of the human compass, to the great confusion of 
the prelate, for laughter rang round the table like a dis- 
charge of artillery. 

"Well have they made the centre-dish/' said the 
bridegroom. "These young ladies are of good under- 
standing. " 

Can there be any better moral than that deduced by 
Monsieur de Genoilhac? Then no other is needed. 


Jehan, son of Simon Fourniez, called Simonnin, a cit- 
izen of Tours— originally of the village of Moulinot, near 
to Beaune, whence, in imitation of certain persons, he 
took the name when he became steward to Louis the 
Eleventh — had to fly one day into Languedoc with his 
wife, having fallen into great disgrace, and left his son 
Jacques penniless in Touraine. This youth, who pos- 
sessed nothing in the world except his good looks, his 
sword and spurs, had in his head a firm intention to 
save his father, and make his fortune at the court, then 
holden in Touraine. At early dawn this good Tourainian 
left his lodging, and, enveloped in his mantle, all ex- 
cept his nose, which he left open to the air, and his 
stomach empty, walked about the town without any trouble 
of digestion. He entered the churches, thought them 
beautiful, looked into the chapels, flicked the flies from 
the pictures and counted the columns, all after the man- 
ner of a man who knew not what to do with his time 
or his money. At other times he feigned to recite his 
paternosters, but really made mute prayers to the ladies, 
offered them holy water when leaving, followed them 
afar off, and endeavored by these little services to en- 
counter some adventure, in which at the peril of his 


life he would find for himself a protector. He had in his 
girdle two doubloons, which "he spared far more than his 
skin, because that would be replaced, but the doubloons 
never. Each day he took from his little hoard the price of a 
roll and a few apples, with which he sustained life, and 
drank at his will and discretion of the water of the Loire. 
This wholesome and prudent diet, besides being good 
for his doubloons, kept him frisky and light as a grey- 
hound, gave him a clear understanding and a warm 
heart, for the water of the Loire is of all syrups the most 
strengthening, because having its course afar off it is in- 
vigorated by its long run, through many strands, before 
it reaches Tours. So you may be sure that the poor fel- 
low imagined a thousand and one good fortunes and 
lucky adventures, and what is more, almost believed 
them true. Oh! the good times! One evening Jacques 
de Beaune (he kept the name although he was not lord 
of Beaune) was walking along the embankment, occupied 
in cursing his star and everything, for his last doubloon 
was with scant respect upon the point of quitting him; 
when at the corner of a little street, he nearly ran against 
a veiled lady, whose sweet odor gratified his amorous 
senses. This fair pedestrian was bravely mounted on 
pretty pattens, wore a beautiful dress of Italian velvet, 
with wide slashed satin sleeves; while as a sign of her 
great fortune, through her veil a white diamond of rea- 
sonable size shone upon her forehead like the rays of the 
setting sun among her tresses, which were so delicately 
rolled, built up, and so neat, that they must have taken 
her maids quite three hours to arrange. She walked like 
a lady who was only accustomed to a litter. One of her 
pages followed her, well armed. She evidently was some 
light o' love belonging to a noble of high rank, or a lady 
of the court, since she held her dress high off the ground, 


and bent her back like a woman of quality. Lady or 
courtesan, she pleased Jacques de Beaune, who, far from 
turning up his nose at her, conceived the wild idea of 
attaching himself to her for life. With this in view he 
determined to follow her in order to ascertain whither 
she would lead him — to Paradise or to the limbo of hell 
— to a gibbet or to an abode of love. Anything was a 
gleam of hope to him in the depth of his misery. The 
lady strolled along the bank of the Loire towards Plessis, 
inhaling like a fish the fine freshness of the water, toy- 
ing, sauntering like a little mouse who wishes to see and 
taste everything. When the page perceived that Jacques 
de Beaune persistently followed his mistress in all her 
movements, stopped when she stopped, and watched her 
trifling, in a barefaced fashion, as if he had a right so to 
do, he turned brusquely round with a savage and threat- 
ening face, like that of a dog who says, " Stand back, 
sir!" But -the good Tourainian had his wits about him. 
Believing that if a cat may look at a king, he, a baptized 
christian, might certainly look at a pretty woman, he 
stepped forward, and feigning to grin at the page, he 
strutted now behind and now before the lady. She said 
nothing, but looked at the sky, which was putting on its 
nightcap, the stars, and everything which could give her 
pleasure. So things went on. At last, arrived opposite 
Portillon, she stood still, and in order to see better, cast 
her veil back over her shoulder, and in so doing cast 
upon the youth the glance of a clever woman who looks 
around to see if there is any danger of being robbed. I 
may tell you that Jacques de Beaune was a thorough 
lady's man, could walk by the side of a princess without 
disgracing her, had a brave and resolute air which pleased 
the sex, and if he was a little browned by the sun from 
being so much in the open air, his skin would look white 


enough under the canopy of a bed. The glance, keen as 
a needle, which the lady threw him, appeared to him 
more animated than that with which she would have 
honored her prayer-book. Upon it he built the hope of 
a windfall of love, and resolved to push the adventure to 
the very edge of the precipice, risking to go still further, 
not only his lips, which he held of little account, but his 
two ears and something else besides. He followed into 
the town the lady, who returned by the Rue des Trois- 
Pucelles, and led the gallant through a labyrinth of little 
streets to the square in which is at the present time situ- 
ated the Hotel de la Crouzille. There she stopped at the 
door of a splendid mansion, at which the page knocked. 
A servant opened it, and the lady went in and closed the 
door, leaving the Sieur de Beaune open-mouthed, stupe- 
fied, and as foolish as Monseigneur St. Denis when he 
was trying to pick up his head. He raised his nose in 
the air to see if some token of favor would be thrown 
him, and saw nothing except a light which went up the 
stairs, through the rooms, and rested before a fine win- 
dow, where probably the lady was also. You can believe 
that the poor lover remained melancholy and dreaming, 
and knowing not what to do. The window gave a sud- 
den creak and broke his reverie. Fancying that his lady 
was about to call him, he looked up again, and but for the 
friendly shelter of the balcony, which was a. helmet to 
him, he would have received a stream of water and the 
jar which contained it, since the handle only remained in 
the grasp of the person who delivered the deluge. 
Jacques de Beaune, delighted at this, did not lose the op- 
portunity, but flung himself against the wall, crying, i{ I 
am killed,'' with a feeble voice. Then stretching him- 
self upon the fragments of broken china, he lay as if dead, 
awaiting the issue. The servants rushed out in a state 


of alarm, fearing their mistress, to whom they had con- 
fessed their fault, and picked up the wounded man, who 
could hardly restrain his laughter at being then carried up 
the stairs. 

"He is cold," said the page. 

" He is covered with blood," said the butler, who while 
feeling his pulse had wetted his hand. 

" If he revives," said the guilty one, " I will pay for a 
mass to Saint Gatien. " 

" Madame takes after her late father, and if she does not 
have thee hanged, the least mitigation of thy penalty will 
be that thou wilt be kicked out of her house and service," 
said another. "Certes, he's dead enough, he is so 
heavy. " 

"Ah! I am in the house ot a very great lady," thought 

"Alas! is he really dead?" demanded the author of the 
calamity. While with great labor the Tourainian was 
being carried up the stairs, his doublet caught on a pro- 
jection, and the dead man cried, "Ah, my doublet!" 

" He groans," said the culprit, with a sigh of relief. 

The regent's servants (for this was the house of the 
regent, the daughter of King Louis XI of virtuous 
memory) brought Jacques de Beaune into a room, and 
laid him stiff and stark upon a table, not thinking for 
a moment that he could be saved. 

" Run and fetch a surgeon," cried Madame de Beaujeu, 
"Run here, run there!" 

The servants went down stairs in a trice. The good 
lady regent despatched her attendants for ointment, for 
linen to bind the wounds, for goulard water, for so many 
things, that she remained alone. Gazing upon this splen- 
did and senseless man, she cried aloud, admiring his 
presence and his features, handsome even in death, "Ah, 


God wishes to punish me. Just for one poor little time 
in my life has there been born in me, and taken pos- 
session of me, a naughty idea, and my patron saint is an- 
gry, and deprives me of the sweetest gentleman I have 
ever seen. By the rood, and by the soul of my father, I 
will hang every man who had a hand in this S " 

"Madame," cried Jacques de Beaune, springing from 
the table, and falling at the feet of the regent, "I will 
live to serve you, and I am so little bruised that I prom- 
ise you as many joys as there are months in the year, in 
imitation of the Sieur Hercules, a pagan baron. For 
the last twenty days," he went on (thinking that matters 
would be smoothed by a little lying), "I have met you 
again and again. I fell madly in love with you, yet 
dared not, by reason of my great respect for your person, 
make an advance. You can imagine how intoxicated I 
must have been with your royal beauties, to have in- 
vented the trick to which I owe the happiness of being at 
your feet." 

Thereupon he kissed her amorously, and gave her a 
look that would overcome any scruples. The regent, 
by means of time, which respects not queens, was, as 
every one knows, in her middle age. In this critical 
and autumnal season, women formerly virtuous and lov- 
erless desire now here, now there, to enjoy, unknown to 
the world, certain hours of love, in order that they may 
not arrive in the other world with hands and heart alike 
empty, through having left the fruit of the tree of knowl- 
edge untasted. The lady of Beaujeu, without appear- 
ing to be astonished while listening to the promises 
of this young man, since royal personages ought 
to be accustomed to having them by dozens, kept 
this ambitious speech in the depths of her memory, or o£ 
her registry of love, which caught fire at his words. 

Droll Stories— 16 


Then she raised the Tourainian, who still found in his 
misery the courage to smile at his lady, who had 
the majesty of a full-blown rose, ears like shoes, and the 
complexion of a sick cat, but was so well dressed, so 
fine in figure, so royal of foot, and so queenly in carriage, 
that he might still find in this affair means to gain his 
original object. 

" Who are you ? " said the regent, putting on the stern 
look of her father. 

" I am your faithful subject, Jacques de Beaune, son of 
your steward, who has fallen into disgrace in spite of his 
faithful services." 

"Ah, well," replied the lady, "lay yourself on the 
table again. I hear some one coming; and it is not fit 
that my people should think me your accomplice in this 
farce and mummery." 

The good fellow perceived, by the soft sound of her 
voice, that he was pardoned the enormity of his love. 
He lay down upon the table again, and remembered how 
certain lords had ridden to court in an old stirrup — a 
thought which perfectly reconciled him to his present 

"Good," said the regent to her maid-servants; "noth- 
ing is needed. This gentleman is better; thanks to 
heaven and the Hoi}/- Virgin, there will have been no 
murder in my house." 

Thus saying, she passed her hand through the locks 
of the lover who had fallen to her from the skies, and 
taking a little reviving water she bathed his temples, 
undid his doublet, and under pretence of aiding his 
recovery, verified better than an expert how soft and 
young was the skin of this young fellow and bold prom- 
iser of bliss, and all the bystanders, men and women, 
were amazed to see the regent act thus. But humanity 


never misbecomes those of royal blood. Jacques stood 
up, and appeared to come to his senses, thanked the 
regent most humbly, and dismissed the physicians, 
master-surgeons and other imps in black, saying that he 
had thoroughly recovered. Then he gave his name, and 
saluting Madame de Beaujeu, wished to depart as 
though afraid of her on account of his father's disgrace, 
but no doubt horrified at his terrible vow. 

"I cannot permit it," said she. "Persons who come 
to my house should not meet with such treatment as you 
have encountered. The Sieur de Beaunewill sup here," 
she added to her major domo. " He who has so unduly 
insulted him will be at his mercy if he makes himself 
known immediately; otherwise, I will have him found 
out and hanged by the provost." 

Hearing this, the page who had attended the lady 
during her promenade, stepped forward. 

"Madame," said Jacques, "at my request pray both 
pardon and reward him, since to him I owe the felicity 
of seeing you, the favor of supping in your company ; 
and perhaps that of getting my father re-established in 
the office to which it pleased your glorious father to ap- 
point him." 

"Well said," replied the regent. " D'Estouteville," 
said she turning toward the page, " I give thee command 
of a company of archers. But for the future do not 
throw things out of the window." 

Then she, delighted with De Beaune, offered him her 
hand and led him most gallantly into her room, where 
they conversed freely together while supper was being 
prepared. There the Sieur Jacques did not fail to exhibit 
his talents, justify his father, and raise himself in the 
estimation of the lady, who, as is well known was like her 
father in disposition, and did everything at random. 


Jacques de Beaune thought to himself that it would be 
rather difficult for him to remain all night with the 
regent. So he was rejoiced that he was known to the 
regent without being compelled to fulfil His rash prom- 
ise, since for this to be carried out it was necessary 
that the servants and others should be out of the 
way, and her reputation safe. Nevertheless, suspect- 
ing the powers of intrigue of the good lady, at times 
he would ask himself if he were equal to the 
task. But beneath the surface of conversation, the 
same thing was in the mind of the regent, who had 
already managed affairs quite as difficult, and she began 
most cleverly to arrange the means. She sent for one of 
her secretaries, an adept in all arts necessary for the per- 
fect government of a kingdom, and ordered him to give 
her secretly a false message during supper. Then came 
the repast, which the lady did not touch, since her heart 
had swollen like a sponge and so diminished her stom- 
ach, for she kept thinking of this handsome and desirable 
man, having no appetite save for him. Jacques did not 
fail to make a good meal for many reasons. The mes- 
senger came,madame began to storm, to knit her brows af- 
ter the manner of the late king, and to say, " Is there never 
to be peace in this land? Pasques Dieu! can we not 
have one quiet evening? " Then she arose, and strode 
about the room. "Ho there! my horse! Where is 
Monsieur de Vielleville, my squire? Ah, he is in Picardy. 
D'Estouteville, you will rejoin me with my household at 
the Chateau d'Amboise. . . ." And looking at 
Jacques, she said, "You shall be my squire, Sieur de 
Beaune. You wish to serve the state. The occasion is a 
good one. Pasques Dieu! come. There are rebels to 
subdue, and faithful knights are needed. " 

In less time than an old beggar would have taken to 


say thank you, the horses were bridled, saddled and 
ready. Madame was on her mare, and the Tourainian 
at her side, galloping at full speed to her castle of 
Amboise, followed by the men-at-arms. To be brief 
and come to the facts without further commentary, 
De Beaune was lodged not twenty yards from madame, 
far from prying eyes. The courtiers and the household,- 
much astonished, ran about inquiring from what quarter 
the danger might be expected; but our hero, taken at 
his word, knew well enough where to find it. The 
virtue of the regent, well known in the kingdom, saved 
her from suspicion, since she was supposed to be as 
impregnable as the Chateau de Peronne. At curfew, 
when everything was shut, both ears and eyes, and the 
castle silent, Madame de Beaujeu sent away her hand- 
maid, and called for her squire. The squire came. 
Then the lady and the adventurer sat side by side upon 
upon a velvet couch, in the shadow of a lofty fireplace, 
and the curious regent, with a tender voice, asked 
of Jacques, "Are you not bruised? It was very wrong 
of me to make a knight, wounded by one of my servants, 
ride twelve miles. I was so anxious about it that I 
would not go to bed without having seen you. Do you 
surfer? " 

"I suffer with impatience/' said he of the dozen, 
thinking it would not do to appear reluctant. "I see 
well," continued he, "my noble and beautiful mistress, 
that your servant has found favor in your sight." 

"There, there," replied she; "did you not tell a 
story when you said " 

"What?" said he. 

"Why, that you had followed me dozens of times to 
churches, and other places to which I went." 

"Certainly," said he. 


" I am astonished," replied the regent, " never to 
have seen until to-day a noble youth whose courage is 
apparent in his countenance. I am not ashamed of that 
which you heard me say when I believed you dead. 
You are agreeable to me, you please me, and you wish 
to do well/' 

Then the hour of the dreaded sacrifice having struck, 
Jacques fell at the knees of the regent, kissed her feet, 
her hands, and everything; and while kissing her, pre- 
vious to retirement, proved by many arguments to the 
aged virtue of his sovereign, that a lady bearing the bur- 
den of the state had a perfect right to enjoy herself — a 
theory which was not directly admitted by the regent, 
who determined to be coerced in order to throw the bur- 
den of the sin upon her lover. This notwithstanding, 
you may be sure she had highly perfumed and elegantly 
attired herself for the night, and shone with desire of 
affection In spite of her feeble resistance she was, 
like a young girl, carried by assault in her royal room 
where the good lady and her young dozener conscien- 
tiously hugged each other. Then from play to quar- 
rel, from quarrel to riot, from riot to ribaldry the regent 
declared that she believed more in the virginity of the 
Holy Mary than in the promised dozen. Now, by 
chance, Jacques de Beaune did not find this great lady 
so very old since everything is metamorphosed by 
the light of the lamps of the night. Many women of 
fifty by day are twenty at night, as others are twenty at 
midday and a hundred after vespers. Jacques, happier 
at this sight than at that of the king on a hanging day, 
renewed his undertaking. Madame, herself astonished, 
promised every assistance on her part. 

Now that which concerns the present narrative is that 
Madame de Beaujeu, to whom the pleasure of love had 


come rather late in the day, well pleased with the great 
wisdom and knowledge of public affairs which her chance 
lover possessed, made him Lord of the Privy Purse, in 
which office he behaved so well, and added so much to 
the contents of it, that his great renown procured for him 
one day the handling of the revenues, which he superin- 
tended and controlled most admirably, and with great 
profit to himself, which was but fair. The good regent 
paid the bet, and handed over to her squire the manor of 
Azay-le-Brule, of which the castle had long before been 
demolished by the first bombarders who came into Tour- 
aine, as everyone knows. For this powdery miracle, but 
for the intervention of the king, the said engineers would 
have been condemned as heretics and abettors of Satan, 
by the ecclesiastical tribune of the chapter. 

At this time there was being built with great care by 
Messire Bohier, Minister of Finance, the Castle of Chen- 
onceaux, which, as a curiosity and novel design, was 
placed right across the river Cher. 

Now the Baron de Samblancay, wishing to oppose the 
said Bohier, determined to lay this foundation of his at 
the bottom of the Indre, where it still stands, the gem of 
this fair green valley, so solidly was it placed upon the 
piles. You may take it for granted this castle is one of 
the finest, prettiest, most exquisite and most elaborate 
castles of our sweet Touraine, and laves itself in the 
Indre like a princely creature, gaily decked with pavil- 
ions and lace-curtained windows, with fine weather-beaten 
soldiers on her vanes, turning whichever way the wind 
blows, as all soldiers do. But Samblancay was hanged 
before it was finished, and since that time no one has been 
found with sufficient money to complete it. Neverthe- 
less, his master, King Francis the First, was once his 
guest, and the royal chamber is still shown there. When 


the king was going to bed, Samblancay, whom the king 
called "old fellow/' in honor of his white hairs, hear- 
ing his royal master, to whom he was devotedly attached, 
remark, "Your clock has just struck twelve, old fel- 
low!" replied, "Ah, sire, to twelve strokes of a hammer, 
an old one now, but years ago a good one, at this hour of 
the clock do I owe my lands, the money spent on this 
place, and the honor of being in your service." 

The king wished to know what his minister meant 
by these strange words; and when his majesty was get- 
ting into bed, Jacques de Beaune narrated the history 
^vith which you are acquainted. Now Francis the First, 
'who was partial to these spicy stories, thought the adven- 
ture a very droll one, and was the more amused thereat 
because at that time his mother, the Duchess d'Angou- 
leme, in the decline of life, was pursuing the constable of 
Bourbon, in order to obtain of him one of these doz- 
ens. Wicked love of a wicked woman, for therefrom 
proceeded the peril of the kingdom, the capture of the 
king, and the death — as has been before mentioned— of 
poor Samblancay. 

I have here endeavored to relate how the Chateau 
d'Azay came to be built, because it is certain that thus 
was commenced the great fortune of that Samblancay 
who did so much for his natal town, which he adorned; 
and also spent such immense sums upon the comple- 
tion of the towers of the cathedral. This lucky adventure 
has been handed down from father to son, from lord to 
lord, in the said place of Azay-le- Ridel, where the story 
frisks still under the curtains of the king, which have been 
curiously respected down to the present day. It is, 
therefore, the falsest of falsities which attributes the 
dozen of the Tourainian to a German knight, who by 
this deed would have secured the domains of Austria 


to the House of Hapsburgh. The author of our days, 
who brought this history to light, although a learned man, 
has allowed himself to be deceived by certain chroni- 
clers, since the archives of the Roman Empire make 
no mention of an acquisition of this kind. I am angry 
with him for having believed that a "braguette," nour- 
ished with beer, could have been equal to the alchemical 
operations of the Chinonian "braguettes, " so much es- 
teemed by Rabelais. And I have for the advantage of 
the country, the glory of Azay, the conscience of the cas- 
tle, and the renown of the House of Beaune, from which 
sprang the Sauves and the Noirmoutiers, re-established 
the facts in all their veritable, historical, and admirable 
beauty. Should any ladies pay a visit to the castle, there 
are still dozens to be found in the neighborhood, but they 
^an only be procured retail. 


That which certain people do not know, is the truth 
concerning the decease of the Duke of Orleans, brother 
of King Charles VI, a death which proceeded from a 
great number of causes, one of which will be the subject 
of this narrative. This prince was for certain the most 
lecherous of all the royal race of Monseigneur St. Louis 
(who was in his lifetime King of France,) without even 
putting on one side some of the most debauched of this 
fine family, which was so concordant with the vices 
and especial qualities of our brave and pleasure-seeking 
nation, that you could more easily imagine hell without 
Satan than France without her valorous, glorious, and 
jovial kings. The wrong-doings of this lord, lover of 
Queen Isabella, whom he doted upon, brought about 
pleasant adventures, since he was a great wit, of an 
Alcibiadescal nature, and a chip of the old block. It 
was he who first conceived the idea of a relay of sweet- 
hearts, so that when he went from Paris to Bordeaux, 
every time he unsaddled his nag he found ready for him 
a good meal, and a bed with as much lace inside as 
out. Of his comical jokes our most excellent King 
Louis the Eleventh has given a splendid sample in the 
book of the "Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles," written under 


his superintendence during his exile, at the court of 
Burgundy, where, during the long evenings, in order to 
amuse themselves, he and his cousin Charolois would 
relate to each other the good tricks and jokes of the 
period ; and when they were hard up for true stories, 
each of the courtiers tried who could invent the best 
one. But out of respect for the blood royal, the dauphin 
has credited a townsman with that which happened to 
the Lady of Cany. But now for mine. 

The Due d'Orleans had in his suite a lord of the 
province of Picardy, named Raoul d'Hocquetonville, 
who had taken for a wife, to the future trouble of the 
prince, a young lady related to the house of Burgundy, 
and rich in domains. But an exception to the general 
run of heiresses, she was of so dazzling a beauty, that 
all the ladies of the court, even the queen and Madame 
Valentine, were thrown into the shade ; nevertheless, 
this was as nothing in the Lady of Hocquetonville, 
compared with her Burgundian consanguinity, her in- 
heritances, her prettiness and gentle nature, because 
these rare advantages received a religious lustre from 
her supreme innocence, sweet modesty, and chaste 
education. The duke had not long gazed upon this 
heaven-sent flower before he was seized with the fever 
of love. He fell into a state of melancholy, frequented 
no bad places, and only with regret now and then did 
he take a bite at his royal and dainty German morsel, 
Isabella. He became passionate, and swore either by 
sorcery, by force, by trickery, or with her consent, to 
enjoy the favors of this gentle lady, who forced him to 
the last extremity, during his now long and weary 
nights. At first he pursued her with honeyed words, 
but he soon knew by her untroubled air that she was 
determined to remain virtuous, for, without appearing 


astonished at his proceedings, or getting angry like 
certain other ladies, she replied to him, "My lord, 
I must inform you that I do not desire to trouble myself 
with the love of other persons, not that I despise the 
joys which are therein to be experienced, (and supreme 
they must be, since so many ladies cast into the abyss 
of love their homes, their honor, their future, and 
everything,) but from the love I bear my children. 
Never would I be the cause of a blush upon their 
cheeks, for in this idea will I bring up my daughters — 
that in virtue alone is true happiness to be found. For, 
my lord, if the days of our old age are more numerous 
than those of our youth, of them must we think. From 
those who brought me up I learned to properly esti- 
mate this life, and I know that everything therein is 
transitory, except the security of the natural affections. 
Thus I wish for the esteem of everyone, and above 
all that of my husband, who is all the world to me. 
Therefore do I desire to appear honest in his sight. I 
have finished, and I entreat you to allow me unmo- 
lested to attend to my household affairs, otherwise I 
will unhesitatingly refer the matter to my lord and 
master, who will quit your service. " 

This brave reply rendered the king's brother more 
amorous than ever, and he endeavored to ensnare this 
noble woman in order to possess her. He never doubted 
a bit that he would have her in his clutches, relying 
upon his dexterity at this kind of sport, the most 
joyous of all, in which it is necessary to employ the 
weapons of all other kinds of sport. 

The artful fellow ceased to mention his desires, but 
had a post of honor given to the lady of Hocquetonville 
in the queen's household. Now, one day that the said 
Isabella went to Vincennes, to visit the sick king, and 


left him master of the Hotel St. Paul, he commandeer 
the chef to have a delicate and royal supper prepared, 
and to serve it in the queen's apartments. Then he 
sent for his obstinate lady by express command, and by 
one of the pages of the household. The Countess 
d'Hocquetonville, believing that she was desired by 
Madame Isabella, for some service appertaining to her 
post, or invited to some sudden amusement, hastened to 
the room. In consequence of the precautions taken by 
the disloyal lover, no one had been able to inform the 
noble dame of the princess' departure, so she hastened 
to the splendid chamber, which, in the Hotel St. Paul, 
led to the queen's bedchamber; there she found the 
Due d'Orleans alone. Suspecting some treacherous 
plot, she went quickly into the other room, found no 
queen, but heard the prince give vent to a hearty 

"I am undone!" said she. Then she endeavored to 
run away. 

But the good lady-killer had posted about devoted 
attendants, who, without knowing what was going on, 
closed the hotel, barricaded the doors, and in this man- 
sion so large that it equalled a fourth of Paris, the 
Lady d'Hocquetonville was in a desert, with no other 
aid than that of her patron saint and God. Then, 
suspecting the truth, the poor lady trembled from head 
to foot, and fell into a chair ; and then the working of 
this snare, so cleverly conceived, was, with many a 
hearty laugh, revealed to her by her lover. Directly 
the duke made a movement to approach her this 
woman rose and exclaimed, arming herself first with 
her tongue, and flashing a thousand maledictions from 
her eyes : 

"You will possess me — but dead ! Ha ! my lord, do 


not force me to a struggle which must become known to 
certain people. I may yet retire, and the Sire d'Hocque- 
tonville shall be ignorant of the sorrow with which you 
have forever tinged my life. Duke, you look too often 
in the ladies' faces to find time to study men's and you 
do not therefore know your man. The Sire d'Hocque- 
tonville would let himself be hacked to pieces in your 
service, so devoted is he to you, in memory of your 
kindness to him, and also because he is partial to you. 
But as he loves so does he hate ; and I believe him to 
be the man td bring his mace down upon your head, 
to take his revenge, if you but compel me to utter one 
cry. Do you desire both my death and your own ? But 
be assured that, as an honest woman, whatsoever 
happens to me, good or evil, I shall keep no secret. 
Now, will you let me go?" 

The bad fellow began to whistle. Hearing his whis- 
tling, the good woman went suddenly into the queen's 
chamber, and took from a place known to her therein 
a sharp stiletto. Then, when the duke followed her in 
ascertain what this flight meant, "When you pass that 
line," cried she, pointing to a board, "I will kill 
myself. " 

My lord, without being in the least terrified, took a 
chair, placed it at the very edge of the plank in ques- 
tion, and commenced a glowing description of certain 
things, hoping to influence the mind of this brave 
woman, and work her to that point that she should be 
at his mercy. Then he commenced to say to her, that, 
in the first place, virtuous women pay dearly for their 
virtue, since, in order to gain the uncertain blessings of 
the future, they lose all the sweetest joys of the present, 
because their husbands were compelled, from motives 
of conjugal policy, not to show them all the jewels in 


the shrine of love, since the said jewels were so raptur- 
ously delicious, so titillatingly voluptuous, that a woman 
would no longer consent to dwell in the cold regions of 
domestic life. He declared that, if she would taste a 
little of the seraphic joys of these little ways to her un- 
known, she would believe all the other things of life as 
not worth a straw; and that, if such were her wish, he 
would forever be as silent as the grave, and thus no 
scandal would besmear her virtue. And the lewd fellow, 
perceiving that the lady did not stop her ears, com- 
menced to describe to her, after the fashion of arabesque 
pictures, the wanton inventions of debauchery. 
Then did his eyes shoot flame, his words burn, and his 
voice ring, and he himself took great pleasure in call- 
ing to mind the various ways of his ladies naming them 
to Madame d'Hocquetonville, and even revealing to her 
the tricks, caresses, and amorous ways of Queen Isabella, 
and he made use of an expression so gracious and so 
ardently inciting, that, fancying it caused the lady to 
relax her hold upon the stiletto a little, he made as if 
to approach her. But she, ashamed to be found 
buried in thought, gazed proudly at the diabolical 
leviathan who tempted her, and said to him, ''Fine 
sir, I thank you. You have caused me to love my hus- 
band all the more, for from your discourse I learn how 
much he esteems me by holding me in such respect 
that he does not dishonor his couch with the tricks of 
street-walkers and bad women. I should think myself 
forever disgraced, and should be contaminated to all 
eternity if I put my foot in those sloughs where go 
these shameless hussies." 

"I will wager," said the duke smiling, "that neverthe- 
less, for the future, you spur the Sire d'Hocquetonville 
to a little sharper action." 


At this the good wife trembled, and cried, '' You are 
a wicked man. Now I both despise and abominate 
you ! What ! unable to rob me of my honor, you 
attempt to poison my mind ! Ah, my lord, this night's 
work will cost you dear — • 

If I forgive it, yet, 
God will not forget. 

"Are not those verses yours?" 

"Madame," said the duke, turning pale with anger, 
"I can have you bound — " 

"Oh, no ! I can free myself," replied she, brandishing 
the stiletto. 

The rapscallion began to laugh. 

"Never mind," said he, "I have a means of plung- 
ing you into the sloughs of these brazen hussies, as 
3 r ou call them." 

"Never, while I live. " 

"iiead and heels you shall go in. You will go of 
your own accord ; you shall enter into it lasciviously, 
and in a way to crush your cavalier, as a wild horse 
does its rider — stamping, leaping, and snorting. I 
swear it, by St. Castud!" 

Instantly he whistled for one of his pages. And 
when the page came, he secretly ordered him to go and 
seek the Sire d'Hocquetonville, Savoissy, Tanneguy, 
Cypierre, and other members of his band, asking them 
to these rooms to supper, not without at the same time 
inviting to meet his guests a pretty petticoat or two. 

Then he came and sat down in his chair again, ten 
paces from the lady, off whom he had not taken his 
eye while giving commands to the page in a whisper. 

"Raoul is jealous," said he. "Now, let me give you 
a wcrd of advice. In this place, " he added, pointing 


to a secret door, "are the oils and superfine perfumes 
of the queen ; in this other little closet she performs her 
ablutions and little feminine offices. So if, as you say, 
Raoul is overwhelmingly jealous with the worst of all 
jealousies, you will use these fast hussies' scents, be- 
cause your danger approaches fast." 

"Ah, my lord, what do you intend to do?" 

"You will know when it is necessary that you should 
know. I wish you no harm, and pledge you upon my 
honor, as a royal knight, that I will most thoroughly 
respect you, and be forever silent concerning my dis- 
comfiture. In short, you will know that the Due 
d'Orleans has a good heart, and revenges himself nobly 
on ladies who treat him with disdain, by placing in 
their hands the eye of Paradise. Only keep your ears 
open to the joyous words that will be handed from 
mouth to mouth in the next room, and cough not if you 
love your children." 

Since there was no egress from the royal chamber, 
the good prince closed the door of the room, certain 
of keeping the lady a safe prisoner there, and again 
impressed upon her the necessity of silence. Then 
came the merry blades in great haste, and found a good 
and substantial supper smiling at them from the silver 
plates upon the table, and the table well arranged and 
well lighted, loaded with fine silver cups and cups . full 
of royal wine. Then said their master to them : 

"Come ! come ! to your places, my good friends. I 
was becoming very weary. Thinking of you, I wished 
to arrange with you a merry feast after the ancient 
method, when the Greeks and the Romans said their 
Pater noster to Master Priapus and the learned god 
called in all countries Bacchus." 

Then all of them, recognizing their master in all 

Droll Stories— 1? 


things, took pleasure in this gay discourse, except 
Raoul d'Hocquetonville, who advanced and said to the 
prince : 

"My lord, I will aid you willingly in any battle but 
that of the petticoats, in that of spear and axe, but not 
of the wine-flasks. My good companions here present 
have not wives at home; it is otherwise with me. I 
have a sweet wife, to whom I owe my company, and 
an account of all my deeds and actions." 

"Then, since I am a married man I am to blame," 
said the duke. 

"Ah ! my dear master, you are a prince, and can do 
as you please." 

These brave speeches made, as you can imagine, 
the heart of the lady prisoner hot and cold. 

"Ah ! my Raoul, " thought she, "thou art a noble 
man. " 

"You are," said the duke, "a man whom I love, and 
consider more faithful and praiseworthy than any of 
my people. The others," said he, looking at the three 
lords, "are wicked men. But, Raoul," he continued, 
"sit thee down. When the linnets come — they are 
linnets of high degree — you can make your way home. 
S'death ! I had treated thee as a virtuous man, ignor- 
ant of the extra-conjugal joys of love, and had carefully 
put for thee in that room the queen of raptures — a fair 
demon, in whom is concentrated all feminine inventions. 
I wished that once in thy life thou, who hast never 
tasted the essence of love, and dreamed but of war, 
should know the secret marvels of the gallant amuse- 
ment, since it is shameful that one of my followers 
should serve a fair lady badly. " 

Thereupon the Sire d'Hocquetonville sat down to the 
table in order to please his prince as far as he could 


lawfully do so. Then they all commenced to laugh, 
joke, and talk about the ladies ; and, according to their 
custom, they related to each other their love adven- 
tures, sparing no woman except the queen of the house, 
and betraying the little habits of each one, to which 
followed horrible little cofidences, which increased in 
treachery and lechery as the contents of the goblets 
grew less. The duke, gay as a universal legatee, drew 
the guests out telling lies of himself to learn the truth 
from them ; and his companions ate at a trot, drank 
at full gallop, and their tongues rattled away faster than 

Now, listening to them, and heating his brain with 
wine, the Sire d'Hocquetonville unharnessed himself 
little by little from his reluctance. In spite of his 
virtues, he indulged certain desires, and became soaked 
with these impurities like a saint who defiles himself 
while saying his prayers. Perceiving which, the prince, 
on the alert to satisfy his ire and his bile, began to 
say to him, joking him : 

"By St. Castud, Raoul, we are all tarred with the 
same brush, all discreet away from here. Go ; we will 
say nothing to madame. By heaven ! man, I wish 
thee to taste of the joys of Paradise. There," said he 
tapping at the door of the room in which was Madame 
d'Hocquetonville, "in there is a lady of the court and 
friend of the queen, but the greatest priestess of Venus 
that ever was, and her equal is not to be found in any 
courtesan, harlot dancer, doxy or hussy. Although 
the woman to make an altar her bed, she is neverthe- 
less too great a lady to allow herself to be seen, and 
too well known to utter any words but the sounds of 
love. No light will you need, for her eyes flash fire, 
and attempt no conversation, since she speaks only 


with movements more rapid « than those of a deer 
surprised in the forest. She is always longing for male 
society. Our poor dead friend, the young Sire de Gic, 
met his death through her. God's truth ! to know 
such bliss as that of which she rings the bells and 
lights the fires, what man would not forfeit a third of 
his future happiness? and he who has known her once 
would for a second time forfeit without regret eternity. " 

"But," said Raoul, "in things which should be so 
much alike, how is it there should be so great a differ- 

'■Ha! ha! ha!" 

Thereupon the company burst out laughing, and 
animated by the wine and a wink from their master, 
they all commenced relating droll and quaint conceits, 
laughing, shouting and making a great noise. Now, 
knowing not that an innocent scholar was there, these 
jokers said things to make the figures on the mantel 
shake, the walls and the ceilings blush ; and the duke 
surpassed them all, saying that the lady who was in the 
next room awaiting a gallant should be the empress of 
these warm imaginations, because she practiced them 
continually. Upon this, the flagons being empty, the 
duke pushed Raoul, who let himself be pushed willingly, 
into the room, and by this means the prince compelled 
the lady to deliberate by which dagger she would either 
live or die. At midnight the Sire d'Hocquetonville 
came out gleefully, not without remorse at having been 
false to his good wife. Then the Due d'Orleans led 
Madame d'Hocquetonville out by a garden door, so that 
she gained her residence before her husband arrived 
there. "This, " said she, in the prince's ear, as she 
passed the postern, "will cost us all dear. " 

One year afterwards, in the old Rue du Temple, 


Raoul d'Hocquetoville, who had quitted the service of 
the duke for that of Jehan of Burgundy, gave the king's 
brother a blow on the head with a club and killed him, 
as every one knows. In the same year died the Lady 
d'Hocquetonville, having faded like a flower deprived 
of air and eaten by a worm. Her good husband had 
engraved upon her marble tomb, which is in one of the 
cloisters of Peronne, the following inscription : 













This epitaph was written in elegant Latin, but for 
the convenience of all it was necessary to translate it, 
although the word comely is feeble beside that of formosa, 
which signifies beautiful in shape. The Duke of 
Burgundy, called the Fearless, to whom previous to 
his death the Sire d'Hocquetonville confided the 
troubles cemented with lime and sand in his heart, 



used to say, that among all the abominations of his 
cousin of Orleans, there was one for which he would 
kill him over again if the deed had not already been 
done, because this wicked man had villainously defaced 
with vice the most divine virtue in the world, and had 
prostituted two noble hearts, the one with the other. 

The just death of this rascal caused many serious 
rebellions, which finally Louis XI, losing all patience, 
put down with fire and sword. 

This shows us that there is a woman at the bottom 
of everything, in France as elsewhere, and that sooner or 
later we must pay for our follies. 


In that winter when commenced the first taking up of 
arms by those of- the religion, which was called the Riot 
of Amboise, an advocate named Avenelles, lent his house, 
situated in the Rue des Marmousets, for the interviews 
and conventions of the Huguenots, being one of them, 
without knowing, however, that the Prince of Cond6, La 
Regnaudie, and others, intended to carry off the king. 

The said Avenelles was in this affair half knave, half 
fool, as is abundantly proved by this narrative. This 
procureur had married a lovely lady of Paris, of whom he 
was jealous enough to kill her for a most trifling offense. 
Be sure that, knowing the murderous and evil nature of 
this man, his wife was faithful enough to him, always 
ready, like a candlestick, arranged for her duty like a 
chest which never moves, and opens to order. Never- 
theless, the advocate had placed her under the guardian- 
ship and pursuing eye of an old servant who had brought 
up the Sieur Avenelles, and was very fond of him. His 
poor wife, for all pleasure in her cold domestic life, used 
to go to the church of St. Jehan, on the Place de GreVe, 
where, as everyone knows, the fashionable world was ac- 
customed to meet; and while saying her paternosters to 
God she feasted her eyes upon all these gallants, and 


finished by picking out from among the lot a good gen- 
tleman, lover of the queen-mother, and a handsome 
Italian, with whom she was smitten because he was in 
the May of his age, nobly dressed, a graceful mover, 
brave in mien, and was all that a lover should be to 
bestow a heart full of love upon an honest woman too 
tightly squeezed by the bonds of matrimony, which tor- 
ment her, and always excite her to unharness herself 
from the conjugal yoke. Then the gentleman gazing at 
the charms of this good wife, and her burning blushes 
when he glanced at her, came always close to her stool, 
and addressed to her those requests which the ladies 
understand so well. Then he said aside to himself: "By 
the double horn of my father, I swear to have that 
woman, though it cost me my life." 

The gentleman, dressed as a scholar of Montaign, 
began to regale the clerks of the said Avenelles, and to 
joke in their company, in order to learn the habits of the 
husband, his hours of absence, his journeys, and every- 
thing, watching for an opportunity to stick his horns on. 
And this was how, to his injury, the opportunity 
occurred. The advocate, obliged to follow the course 
of this conspiracy, and, in case of failure, intending to 
revenge himself upon the Guises, determined to go to 
Blois, where the court then was in great danger of being 
carried off. Knowing this, the gentleman came first to 
the town of Blois, and there arranged a master-trap, into 
which the Sieur Avenelles should fall, in spite of his 
cunning, and not come out until steeped in a crimson 
cuckoldom. This said Italian, intoxicated with love, 
called together all his pages and vassals, and posted 
them in such a manner that on the arrival of the advo- 
cate, his wife and her duenna, it was stated to them at 
all the hostelries at which they wished to put up that the 


hostelry being full in consequence of the sojourn of the 
court, they must go elsewhere. Then the gentleman 
made such an arrangement with the landlord of the 
Soliel Royal, that he had the whole of the house, and 
occupied it, without any of the usual servants of the 
place remaining there. For greater security, my lord 
sent the said master and his people into the country, and 
put his own in their places, so that the advocate- should 
know nothing of this arrangement. Behold my good 
gentleman who lodges his friends come to the court in 
the hostelry, and for himself keeps a room situated 
above those in which he intends to put his lovely mis- 
tress, her advocate, and the duenna, not without first 
having cut a trap in the boards. And his steward being 
charged to play the part of the innkeeper, his pages dressed 
like guests, and his female servants like servants of the 
inn, he waited for spies to convey to him the dramatis 
personse of this farce — viz., wife, husband, and duenna, 
none of whom failed to come. Seeing the immense 
wealth of the great lords, merchants, warriors, members 
of the service, and others, brought by the sojourn of the 
young king, of two queens, the Guises, and all the court, 
no one had a right to be astonished or to talk of the 
roguish trap, or of the confusion come to the Soleil 
Royal. Behold now the Sieur Avenelles, on his arrival, 
bundled about, he, his wife, and the duenna, from inn to 
inn, and thinking themselves very fortunate in being 
received at the Soleil Royal, where the gallant was 
getting warm, and love was burning. The advocate 
being lodged, the lover walked about in the courtyard, 
watching and waiting for a glance from his lady; and he 
did not have to wait very long, since the fair Avenelles, 
looking soon in to the court, after the custom of the ladies, 


there recognized, not without great throbbing of the 
heart, her gallant and well-beloved gentleman. 

The advocate, being expected by the conspirators, 
who were holding a council, was obliged to quit his good 
wife, leaving her to the care of the old woman. 

The knave having departed, the gentleman, putting 
one of the servants to keep watch at the corner of the 
street mounts to his blessed trap, lifts it noiselessly, and 
calls the lady by a gentle psit ! psit / which was under- 
stood by the heart which generally understands every- 
thing. The lady lifts her head and sees her pretty lover 
four flea-jumps above her. Upon a sign, she takes hold 
of two cords of black silk, to which were attached loops, 
through which she passes her arms, and in the twinkling 
of an eye is translated by two pulleys from her bed 
through the ceiling into the room above, and the trap 
closing as it had opened, left the old duenna in a state of 
great nabbergastation, when, turning her head, she 
neither saw robe nor woman, and perceived that the 
woman had been robbed. How ? by whom ? in what 
way ? where ? — presto ! Foro ! Magico ! As much knew 
the alchemists at their furnaces reading Herr Trippa. 
At first sight Madame Avenelles found a dainty supper, 
a good fire in the grate, but a better in the heart of her 
lover, who siezed her and kissed her with tears of joy, on 
the eyes first of all, to thank them for their sweet glances 
during devotion at the church of St. Jehan en Greve. 
Nor did the glowing better half of the lawyer refuse her 
little mouth to his love, but allowed herself to be prop- 
erly pressed, adored, caressed, delighting to be properly 
pressed, admirably adored, and calorously caressed after 
the manner of eager lovers. And both agreed to be all 
in all to each other the whole night long, no matter what 
the result might be, she counting the future as a fig in 


comparison with the joys of this night, he 'relying upon 
his cunning and his sword to obtain many another. In 
short, enjoyed them with each other a thousand delights, 
giving to each other the double of their own — believing, 
he, and she, that they were falling into an abyss, and 
wishing to roll there closely clasped, hurling all the love 
of their souls with rage in one throw. Therein they 
loved each other well. Now the youthful lady and the 
gentleman ate little supper, but retired early to rest. 
Meanwhile, the husband, so well cuckolded that all 
memory of marriage had been swept away by love — the 
said Avenelles found himself in a great fix. To the 
council of the Huguenots came the Prince of Cond^, ac- 
companied by all the chiefs and bigwigs, and there it 
was resolved to carry off the queen-mother, the Guises, 
the young king, the young queen, and to change the gov- 
ernment. This becoming serious, the advocate, seeing 
his head at stake, did not feel the ornament being plant- 
ed there, and ran to divulge the conspiracy to the Cardi- 
nal of Loraine, who took the rogue to the duke, his 
brother, and all three held a consulation, making fine 
promises to the Sieur Avenelles, whom with the greatest 
difficulty they allowed, towards midnight, to depart, at 
which hour he issued secretly from the castle. At this 
moment the pages of the gentleman and all his people 
were having a right jovial supper in honor of the fortui- 
tous wedding of their master. Now, arriving at the 
height of the festivities, in the middle of the intoxication 
and joyous huzzahs, he was assailed with jeers, jokes and 
laughter, that turned him sick when he came into his 
room. The poor servant wished to speak, but the advo- 
cate promptly planted a blow in her stomach, and by a 
gesture commanded her to be silent. Then he felt in his 
valise and took therefrom a good poniard. While he 


was opening and sharpening it, a frank, naive, joyous, 
amorous, pretty, celestial roar of laughter, followed by 
certain words of easy comprehension, came down through 
the trap. The cunning advocate, blowing out his candle, 
saw through the cracks in the boards caused by the 
shrinking of the door, a light, which vaguely explained 
the mystery to him, for he recognized the voice of his 
wife and that of the combatant. The husband took the 
duenna by the arm, and went softly up the stairs search- 
ing for the door of the chamber in which were the lovers, 
and did not fail to find it. Fancy ! that like a horrid, 
rude advocate, he burst open the door, and with one 
spring was in the room, in which he surprised his wife 
who was in the arms of the gentleman. 

"Ah !" said she. 

The lover having avoided the blow, tried to snatch the 
poniard from the hands of the knave, who held it firmly. 
Now, in this struggle of life and death, the husband, find- 
ing himself hindered by his lieutenant, who clutched him 
tightly with his fingers of iron, and bitten by his wife, who 
tore away at him with a will, gnawing him as a dog gnaws 
a bone, he thought instantly of a better way to grati- 
fy his rage. Then the devil, newly horned, maliciously 
ordered, in his patois, the servant to tie the lovers with 
the silken cords of the trap, and throwing the poniard 
away, he helped the duenna to make them fast. And the 
thing thus done in a moment, he rammed some linen in- 
to their mouths to stop their cries, and ran to his good 
poniard without saying a word. At this moment there 
entered several officers of the Duke of Guise, whom dur- 
ing the struggle no one had heard turning the house 
upside down, looking for the Sieur Avenelles. These 
soldiers, suddenly warned by the cries of the pages of 
the lord, bound, gagged and half killed, threw them- 


selves between the man with the poniard and the lovers, 
disarmed him, and accomplished their mission by ar- 
resting him and marching him off to the castle prison, he, 
his wife, and the duenna. At the same time the people 
of the Guises, recognizing one of their master's friends, 
with whom at this moment the queen was most anx- 
ious to consult, and whom they were' enjoined to summon 
to the council, invited him to come with them. Then the 
gentleman, soon untied, dressing himself, said aside to 
the chief of the escort, that on his account, for the love 
of him, he should be careful to keep the husband away 
from his wife, promising him his favor, good advance- 
ment, and even a few deniers, if he were careful to obey 
him on this point. And for greater surety he explained 
to him the why and the wherefore of the affair, add- 
ing that if the husband found himself within reach of 
this fair lady he would give her for certain a very severe 
blow from which she would never recover. Finally 
he ordered him to place the lady in the gaol of the castle, 
in a pleasant place level with the gardens, and the advo- 
cate in a safe dungeon, not without chaining him hand 
and foot. The which the said officer promised, and ar- 
ranged matters according to the wish of the gentleman, 
who accompanied the lady as far as the courtyard of thq 
castle, assuring her that this business would make her a 
widow, and that he would perhaps espouse her in le- 
gitimate marriage. Then he went up quickly to the. 
queen's apartments, where a great secret; council waa 
then being held, and there the Italian learned what wa$ 
going on, and the danger of the court. Monseignem 
Sardini found the privy councillors much embarrassed 
and surprised at this dilemma, but he made them ali 
agree, telling them to turn it to their own advantage; 
and to his advise was due the clever idea of lodging the 


king in the castle of Amboise, in order to catch the here- 
tics there like foxes in a bag, and there to slay them all. 
When in the morning every one had quitted the chamber 
of the queen-mother, where everything had been ar- 
ranged, Monseigneur Sardini, in no way oblivious of his 
love for the fair Avenelles, although he was at the 
time deeply smitten with the lovely Limeuil, a girl belong- 
ing to the queen-mother, and her relation by the house 
of La Tour de Turenne, asked why the good Judas had 
been caged. Then the Cardinal of Loraine told him 
that his intention was not in any way to harm the rogue, 
but that, fearing his repentance, and for greater security 
of his silence until the end of the affair, he had put him 
out of the way, and would liberate him at the proper 

"Liberate him!" said the Luccanesse. "Never! 
Put him in a sack, and throw the old black gown into 
the Loire. In the first place I know him; he is not the 
man to forgive you his imprisonment, and will return to 
the Protestant Church. Thus this will be a work pleas- 
ant to God, to rid him of a heretic. Then no one will 
know your secrets, and not one of his adherents will 
think of asking you what has become of him, because he 
is a traitor. Let me procure the escape of his wife and 
arrange the rest; I will take it off your hands." 

"Ha! ha!" said the cardinal; "you give good coun- 
sel. Nov/ I will, before distilling your advice, have 
them both more securely guarded. Hi, there! " 

Came an officer of police, who was ordered to let no 
person, whoever he might be, communicate with the two 
prisoners. Then the cardinal begged Sardini to say at 
his hotel that the said advocate had departed from Blois 
to return to his causes in Paris. The men charged with 
the arrest of the advocate, had received verbal orders to 


treat him as a man of importance, so they neither 
stripped nor robbed him. Now the advocate had kept 
thirty, gold crowns in his purse, and resolved to lose 
them all to assure his vengeance, and proved by good 
arguments to the gaolers that it was allowable for him to 
see his wife, on whom he doted, and whose legitimate 
embrace he desired. Monseigneur Sardini, fearing for 
his mistress the danger of the proximity of this red 
learned rogue determined to carry her off in the night, 
and put her in a place of safety. Then he hired some 
boatmen and also their boat, placing them near the 
bridge, and ordered three of his most active servants to 
file the bars of the cell, seize the lady, and conduct her 
to the wall of the gardens, where he would await her. 

These preparations being made, and good files bought, 
he obtained an interview in the morning with the queen- 
mother, whose apartments were situated above the 
stronghold in which lay the said advocate and his wife, 
believing that the queen would willingly lend herself to 
this flight. Presently he was received by her, and 
begged her not to think it wrong that, at the instigation 
of the cardinal and the Duke of Guise, he should deliver 
this lady; and besides this, urged her very strongly to 
tell the cardinal to throw the man into the water. To 
which the queen said, "Amen." Then the lover sent 
quickly to his lady a letter in a plate of cucumbers, to 
advise her of her approaching widowhood, and the hour 
of flight, with all of which was the fair citizen well con- 
tent. Then at dusk the soldiers of the watch being got 
out of way by the queen, who sent them to look at a ray 
of the moon which frightened her, behold the servants 
raised the grating, and called the lady, who came quickly 
enough, and was led to the house to Monseigneur 


But the postern closed, and the Italian outside with 
the lady, behold the lady throw aside her mantle, see the 
lady change into an advocate, and see my said advocate 
seize his cuckolder by the collar, and half strangle him, 
dragging him towards the water to throw him to the bot- 
tom of the Loire; and Sardini begin to defend himself, 
to shout, and to struggle, without being able, in 
spite of his dagger, to shake off this devil in long robes. 
Then he was quiet, falling into a slough under the feet 
of the advocate, whom he recognized through the mists 
of this diabolical combat, and by the light of the moon, 
his face plashed with the blood of his wife. The en- 
raged advocate quitted the Italian, believing him to be 
dead, and also because servants, armed with torches, 
came running up. But he had time to jump into the 
boat and push off in great haste. 

Thus poor Madame Avenelles died alone, since Mon- 
seigneur Sardini, badly strangled, was found, and re- 
vived from, this murder; and later, as every one knows, 
married the fair Limeuil after this sweet girl had been 
brought to bed in the queen's cabinet — a great scandal, 
which from friendship the queen-mother wished to con- 
ceal, and which from great love Sardini, to whom Cath- 
erine gave the splendid estate of Chaumont-sur-Loire, 
and also the castle, covered with marriage. 

But he had been so brutally used by the hushand, that 
he did not make old bones, and the fair Limeuil was 
left a widow in her spring time. In spite of his mis- 
deeds the advocate was not searched after. He was 
cunning enough eventually to get included in the num- 
ber of those conspirators who were not prosecuted, and 
returned to the Huguenots, for whom he worked hard in 

Poor Madame Avenelles, pray for her soul! for she 



was hurled no one knew where, aud had neither the 
prayers of the church nor christian burial. Alas! shed a 
tear for her, ye ladies lucky in your loves. 




I What a Succubus was. 
II The proceedings taken relative to this female 

III What the Succubus did to suck out the soul of 

the old judge, and what came from this dia- 
bolical delectation. 

IV How the Moorish woman of the Rue Chaude 

twisted about so briskly, that with great diffi- 
culty was she burned and cooked alive, to the 
great loss of the infernal regions. 


A number of persons of the noble country of Tou- 
raine, considerably edified by the warm search which 
the author is making into the antiquities, adventures, 
good jokes, and pretty tales of that blessed land, and 
believing for certain that he should know everything, 
have asked him (after drinking with him of course, 
understood,) if he had discovered the etymological 
reason, concerning which all the ladies of the town are 
so curious, and from which a certain street in Tours is 
called the Rue Chaude. By him was it replied, that 
he was much astonished to see that the ancient inhabi- 
tants had forgotten the great number of convents 
situated in this street. A troublesome fellow, wishing 
to appear learned, declared that formerly all the scandal- 
mongers of the neighborhood were wont to meet in this 
place. An old man observed that in this same place 
was formerly a source of thermal water, of which his 
great-great-grandfather had drunk. In short, in less 
time than it takes a fly to embrace its sweetheart, there 
had been given a pocketful of etymologies, in which 
the truth of the matter had been less easily found than 
a louse in the filthy beard of a Capuchin friar. But a 
man learned and well informed, though having left his 


footprint in many monastries, consumed much midnight 
oil and manured his brain with many a volume, who 
had been drinking in his corner without saying a word, 
smiled the smile of a wise man and knitted his brows, 
the said smile finally resolving itself into a pish! well 
articulated, which the author heard and understood it 
to be big with an adventure historically good, the 
delights of which he would- be able to unfold in this 
sweet collection. 

To be brief, on the morrow this gouty old fellow 
said to him, "By your poem, which is called 'The 
Venial Sin/ you have forever gained my esteem, 
because everything herein is true from head to foot — 
which I believe to be a precious superabundance in like 
matters. But doubtless you do not know what became 
of the Moor placed in religion by the said knight, 
Bruyn de la Roche-Corbon. I know very well. Now if 
this etymology of the street harass you, and also the 
Egyptian nun, I will lend you a curious and antique 
parchment, found by me in the Olim of the episcopal 
palace, of which the libraries were 'a little knocked 
about at a period when none of us knew if he would 
have the pleasure of his heads' society on the morrow. 
Now, will not this- yield you a perfect contentment?" 

"Good!" said the author. 

Then this worthy collector of truths gave certain rare 
and dusty parchments to the author, the which he has, 
not without great labor, translated into French, and 
which were fragments of a most ecclesiastical process. 
Now, then, give ear. This is the order in which were 
the manuscripts, of which the author has made use in 
his own fashion, because the language was devilishly 
difficult. - 




In the year of our Lord, one thousand two hundred 
and seventy-one, before me, Hierome Cornille, grand 
inquisitor and ecclesiastical judge have appeared certain 
noblemen, citizens, and inhabitants of the diocese, who 
have stated the following facts concerning a demon 
suspected of having taken the features of a woman, 
who has much afflicted the minds of the diocese, and is 
at present a prisoner in the gaol of the chapter ; and 
in order to arrive at the truth of the said charge we 
have opened the present court, this Monday, the 
eleventh day of December, after mass, to communicate 
the evidence of each witness to the said demon, to 
interrogate her upon the said crimes to her imputed, 
and to judge her according to the laws enforced contra 

In this inquiry has assisted me to write the evidence 
therein given, Guillaume Tournebouche, rubrican of the 
chapter, a learned man. 

Firstly has come before us one Jehan, surnamed 
Tortebras, a citizen of Tours, keeping by license the 


hostelry of La Cigoygne, situate on the Place du Pont, 
and one who has sworn by the salvation of his soul to 
state no other thing than that which by himself hath 
been seen and heard. He hath stated as here followeth : 

"I declare that about two years before the feast of St. 
Jehan, upon which are the grand illuminations, a gentle- 
man, at first unknown to me, but belonging without 
doubt to our lord the king, came to me with the pro- 
postion that I should let him at a rental a certain 
country-house by me built, in the quit- rent of the 
chapter over against the place called of St. Etienne, 
and the which I let to him for nine years, for the con- 
sideration of three besans of fine gold. In the said 
house was placed by the said knight a fair wench 
having the appearance of a woman, dressed in the 
strange fashion of the Saracens and Mahometans, whom 
he would allow by none to be seen or to be approached 
within a bowshot, but whom I have seen with my own 
eyes, weird feathers upon her head, and eyes so flaming 
that I cannot adequately describe them, and from which 
gleamed forth a fire of hell. The defunct knight hav- 
ing threatened with death whoever should appear to spy 
about the said house, I have by reason of great fear 
left the said house, and I have until this day secretly 
kept in my mind certain presumptions and doubts con- 
cerning the bad appearance of the said foreigner, who 
was more strange than any woman, her equal ryot having 
as yet by me been seen. 

"Man|r persons of all conditions having at the time 
believed the said kinght to be dead, but kept upon his 
feet by virtue of certain charms, philtres, spells, and 
diabolical sorceries of this seeming woman, who wished 
to settle in our country, I declare that I have always 
seen the said knight so ghastly pale that I can only 


compare his face to the wax of a Paschal candle, and 
to the knowledge of all the people of the hostelry of 
La Cigoygne, this knight was interred nine days after 
his first coming. According to the statement of his 
groom, the defunct had been chalorously coupled with 
the said Moorish woman during seven whole days shut 
up in my house, without coming out from her, the 
which I heard him horribly avow upon his deathbed. 
Certain persons at the present time have accused this 
she-devil of holding the said gentleman in her clutches * 
by her long hair, the which was furnished with certain 
warm properties by means of which are communicated 
to Chirstians the flames of hell in the form of love, 
which work in them until their souls are by this means 
drawn from their bodies and possessed by Satan. He 
has been recognized as the Lord de Bueil, who was a 
Crusader, and who was, according to certain persons of 
the town, under the spell of a demon whom he had 
met in the Asiatic country of Damascus or elsewhere. 

"Afterward I left my house to the said unknown 
lady, according to the clauses in the deed of lease. The 
said Lord of Bueil, being defunct, I have nevertheless 
been into my house in order to learn from the said 
foreign woman if she wished to remain in my dwelling, 
and after great trouble was led before her by a strange, 
half-naked black man, whose eyes were white. 

"Then I have seen the said Moorish woman in a 
little room, shining with gold and jewels, lighted with 
strange lights, upon an Asiatic carpet, where she was 
seated, lightly attired, with another gentleman, who was 
there imperilling his soul ; and I had not the heart bold 
enough to look upon her, seeing that her eyes would 
have incited me immediately to yield myself up to her, 
for already her voice thrilled into my very soul filled 


my brain, and debauched my mind. Finding this, 
from the fear of God, and also of hell, I have departed 
with swift feet, leaving my house to her as long as she 
liked to retain it, so dangerous was it to behold that 
Moorish complexion from which radiated diabolical 
heats, besides a foot smaller than it was lawful in a real 
woman to possses ; and to hear her voice, which pierced 
into one's heart ! And from that day I have lacked 
both courage to enter my house from great fear of falling 
into hell. I have said my say. " 

To the said Tortebras we have then shown an Abys- 
sinian, Nubian, or Ethiopian, who, black from head to 
foot, had been found wanting in certain virile proper- 
ties with which all good Christians are usually furnished, 
who, having persevered in his silence, after having 
been tormented and tortured many times, not without 
much moaning, has persisted in being able to speak the 
language of our country. And the said Tortebras has 
recognized the said Abyssinian heretic as having been 
in his house in company with the said demoniacal spirit, 
and is suspected of having lent his aid to her sorcery. 

And the said Tortebras has confessed his great faith 
in the Catholic religion, and declared no other things 
to be within his knowledge save certain rumors which 
were known to every one, of which he had been in no 
way a witness except in the hearing of them. 

In obedience of the citation served upon him, as 
appeared then, Matthew, surnamed Cognefestu, a day- 
laborer of St. Etienne, whom, after having sworn by the 
holy evangelists to speak the truth, has confessed to us 
always to have seen a bright light in the dwelling of 
the said foreign woman, and heard much wild and 
diabolical laughter on the days and nights of feasts and 
fasts, notably during the days of the holy and Christmas 


weeks, as if a great number of people were in the house. 

Finally, the said Cognefestu has declared to us to 
know no more, because he worked from early morning, 
and went to bed at the same hour as the fowls. 

Afterwards the wife of the aforesaid Cognefestu has 
by us been required to state also upon oath the things 
come to her cognizance in this process, and has 
avowed naught save praises of the said foreigner, be- 
cause since her coming her man had treated her bet- 
ter in consequence of the neighborhood of this good 
lady, who filled the air with love as the sun did light, 
and other incongruous nonsense, which we have not 
committed to writing. 

To the said Cognefestu and to his wife we have 
shown the said unknown African, who has been seen 
by them in the gardens of the house, and is stated by 
them for certain to belong to the said demon. In the 
third place, has advanced Hardiun V, lord of Manilla, 
who, being by us reverently begged to enlighten the 
religion of the Church, has expressed his willingness so 
to do, and has, moreover, engaged his word, as a 
gallant knight, to say no other thing than that which 
he has seen. Then he has testified to have known in 
the army of the Crusades the demon in question, and 
in the town of Damascus to have seen the knight of 
Bueil, since defunct, fight at close quarters to be her 
sole possessor. The above-mentioned wench, or demon, 
belonged at that time to the knight Geoff roy IV, lord of 
Roche-Pozay, by whom she was said to have been 
brought from Touraine, although she was a Saracen. 
But in the end of the knight of Bueil, having killed 
Geoff roy de la Roche-Pozay, became lord and master of 
this young murderess, and placed her in a convent, or 
harem, according to the Saracen custom. 


The said knight Harduin has confessed to us not to 
have tilted for her in the Holy Land, not from fear, 
coldness, or other cause, so much as that he believed 
the time had arrived for him to bear away a portion 
of the true cross, and also he had belonging to him a 
noble lady of the Greek country, who saved him from 
this danger in denuding him of love, morning and 
night, seeing that she took all of it substantially from 
him, leaving him none in his heart or elsewhere fo~ 

And the said knight has assured us that the woman 
living in the country-house of Tortebras was really the 
said Saracen woman, come into the country from 
Syria, because he had been invited to a midnight feast 
at her house by the young lord of Croixmare, who 
expired the seventh day atferwards, according to the 
statement of the Dame de Croixmare his mother, 
ruined at all points by the said wench. 

Afterwards questioned upon the ideas as entertained 
concerning the said woman, and summoned 1 y us to 
open his conscience, seeing that it was question of a 
most abominable case of Christian faith and divine 
justice, answer has been made by the said night : 

That by certain of the host of Crusaders it has been 
stated to him that always this she-devil was a maid to 
him who embraced her, and that mammon was for 
certain occupied in her, making for her a new vitrue 
for each of her lovers, and a thousand other foolish 
sayings of drunken men, which were not of a nature to 
form a fifth Gospel. 

Afterwards he retired, after reading over his state- 
ment, not without having first recognized the above- 
mentioned African to be the servant and page of the 


In the fourth place, upon the faith pledged by us in 
the name of the chapter and of our lord archbishop, 
that he should not be tormented, tortured, nor harassed 
in any manner, nor further cited after his statement, 
in consequence of his commercial journeys, and upon 
the assurance that he should retire in perfect freedom, 
has come before us a Jew, named Salomon al Rastchild, 
who, in spite of the infamy of his person and his 
Judaism, has been heard by us to this one end, to 
know everything concerning the conduct of the aforesaid 
demon. Thus he has not been required to take any 
oath, this Salomon, seeing that he is beyond the pale 
of the church, separated from us by the blood of our 
Saviour. Interrogated by us as to why he appeared 
without the green cap upon his head, and the yellow 
wheel in the apparent locality of the heart in his 
garment, according to the ecclesiastical and royal ordin- 
ances, the said de Rastchild has exhibited to us letters 
patent of dispensation granted by our lord king, and 
recognized by the seneschal of Touraine and Poitou. 
Then the said JeW has declared to us to have done a 
large business for the lady dwelling in the house of the 
innkeeper Tortebras, to have brought for her from the 
Levant a number of rare stuffs, Persian carpets, silks, 
and fine linen ; in fact, things so magnificent that no 
queen in Christendom could say she was so well fur- 
nished with jewels and household goods \ and that he 
had for his part received from her three hundred thou- 
sand pounds for the rarity of the purchases in which 
he had been employed. Requested by us, the judge, 
to say if he had furnished certain ingredients of magical 
conjuration, the blood of new-born children, conjuring 
books, and things generally and whatsoever made use 
of by sorcerers, giving him license to state his case 


without that thereupon he should be subject to any 
further inquest or inquiry, the said Al Rastchild has 
sworn by his Hebrew faith never to have had any such 
commerce. Moreover, he has declared that he consid- 
ered the said lady, the subject of inquiry, to be a right 
royal and natural woman, with the sweetest limbs and 
the smallest he has ever seen. That in consequence 
of her renown for a diabolical spirit, pushed by a wild 
imagination, and also because that he was smitten with 
her, he had, once that she was husbandless, proposed 
to her to be her gallant, to which proposition she 
willingly acceded. Now although from that night he 
long felt his bones disjoint and his bowels crushed, he 
had not experienced, as certain persons say, that who 
once yielded was free no more ; he went to his fate as 
lead into the crucible of the alchemist. Then the said 
Salomon, to whom we have granted his liberty according 
to his safe conduct, in spite of this statement which 
proves abundantly his commerce with the devil, because 
he has been safely there where all christians have suc- 
cumbed, has submitted to us an agreement concerning 
the said demon. To make known that he made an 
offer to the chapter of the cathedral to give for the 
said semblance of a woman such a ransom, if she were 
condemned to be burned alive, that the highest of the 
towers of the church of Saint Maurice, at present in 
course of construction, could therewith be finished. 

The which we have noted to be deliberated upon at 
an opportune time by the assembled chapter. And the 
said Salomon has taken his departure without being 
willing to indicate his residence, and has told us that 
he can be informed of the deliberation of the chapter 
by a Jew of the synagogue of Tours, named Tobias 
Nathanous. The said Jew has before his departure 

And he went often to enjoy the company of this 

accursed woman. 


been shown the African, and has recognized him as the 
page of the demon, and has stated the Saracens to 
have the custom of mutilating their slaves thus, to 
commit to them the task of guarding their women by 
an ancient usage, as it appears in the profane histories 
of Narsez, general of Constantinople, and others. 

In the fifth place has appeared before us, after adjourn- 
ment, J acquette, called Vieux-Oing, a kitchen scullion, 
going to houses to wash dishes, residing at; present in 
the fishmarket, who, after having pledged her word to 
say nothing she did not hold to be true, has declared 
as here follows : Namely, that one day she., being come 
into the kitchen of the said demon, of whom she had 
no fear, because she was wont to regale herself only 
upon males, she had the opportunity of seeing in the 
garden this female demon, superbly attired, walking in 
company with a knight, with whom she was laug hing, 
like a natural woman. Then she had recognized in this 
demon the true likeness of the Moorish woman placed 
as a nun in the convent of Notre-Dame de PEgrignolles 
by the defunct seneschal of Touraine and Poitou, 
Messire Bruyn, Count of Roche-Corbon, the which 
Moorish woman had been left in the situation and place 
of the image of our lady the Virgin, the mother of our 
blessed Saviour, stolen by the Egyptians about eighteen 
years since. Of this time, in consequence of the trou- 
bles come about in Touraine, no record has been kept. 
This girl, aged about twevle years, was saved from the 
stake at which she should have been burned by being 
baptized ; and the said defunct and his wife had then 
been godfather and godmother to this child of hell. Be- 
ing at that time laundress at the convent, she who bears 
witness has remembrance of the flight which the said 
Egyptian took twenty months after her entry into the 


convent, so subtilely that it has never been known how 
or by what means she escaped. At that time, it was 
thought by all, that with the devil's aid she had flown 
away in the air, seeing that notwithstanding much 
search, no trace of her flight was found in the convent, 
where everything remained in its accustomed order. 

The African having been shown to the said scullion, 
she has declared not to have seen him before, although 
she was curious so to do, as he was commisioned to 
guard the place in which the Moorish woman combated 
with those whom she drained through the spigot. 

In the sixth place has been brought before us Hugues 
du Fou, son of the Sieur de Bridor6, who, aged twenty 
years, has been placed in the hands of his father, under 
caution of his estates, and by him is represented in this 
process, whom it concerns if he should be duly attaint- 
ed and convicted of having, assisted by several un- 
known and bad young men, laid siege to the gaol oi 
the archbishop and of the chapter, and of having lent 
himself to disturb the force of ecclesiastical justice, b}T 
causing the escape of the demon now under considera* 
tion. In spite of his evil disposition we have com- 
manded the said Hugues du Fou to testify truly, 
touching the things he should know concerning the, 
said demon, with whom he is ^vehemently reputed to 
have had commerce, pointing out to him that it was a 
question of his salvation and of the life of the said 
demon. He, after having taken oath, has said : 

"I swear by my eternal salvation and by the holy 
evangelists here present under my hand, to hold the 
woman suspected of being a demon to be an angel, a 
perfect woman, and even more so in mind than in body, 
living in all honesty, full of the migniard charms and 
delights of love, in no way wicked, but most generous, 


assisting greatly, the poor and suffering. I declare 
that I have seen her weeping veritable tears for the 
death of my friend, the knight of Croixmare. And 
because on that day she had made a vow to our lady 
the Virgin no more to receive the love of young noble- 
men, she has to me constantly and with great courage 
denied me enjoyment, and has only granted to me love, 
and the possession of her heart, of which she has made 
me sovereign. Since this gracious gift, I have remained 
alone in her dwelling, where I have spent the greater 
part of my days, happy in seeing and in hearing her. 

Oh ! I would eat near her, partaking of the air which 
entered into her lungs, of the lights which shone in 
her sweet eyes, and found in this occupation, more joy 
than have the lords of paradise. Elected by me to be 
forever my lady, chosen to be one day my dove, my 
wife, and only sweetheart, I, poor fool, have received 
from her no advances on the joys of the future, but, 
on the contrary, a thousand virtuous admonitions ; such 
as that I should acquire renown as a good knight, be- 
come a strong man and a fine one, fear nothing except 
God ; honor the ladies, serve but one and love them in 
memory of that one ; that when I should be strength- 
ened by the work of war, if her heart still pleased mine, 
at that time only would she be mine because she would 
be able to wait for me, loving me so much. " 

So saying the young Sire Hugues wept, and weeping 
added : 

"That thinking of this graceful and feeble woman, he 
did not know how to contain himself while fancying 
the irons which would wound her, and the miseries 
with which she would traitorously be loaded, and from 
this cause came his rebellion." 

And the said young man has vociferated a thousand 

Droll Stories— 19 


other praises of the said demon, which bear witness to 
the vehement sorcery practiced upon him, and prove, 
moreover, the abominable, unalterable, and incurable 
life and the fraudulent witcheries to which he is at pres- 
ent subject, concerning which our lord the archbishop 
will judge, in order to save by exorcisms and penitences 
this young soul from the snares of hell, if the devil have 
not gained too strong a hold of it. 

Then we have handed back the said young nobleman 
into the custody of the noble lord his father, after that, 
by the said Hugues, the African has been recognized as 
the servant of the accused. 

In the seventh place, before us, have the footguards of 
our lord the archbishop led in great state the most high 


abbess of the convent of Notre-Dame, under the invo- 
cation of Mount Carmel, to whose control had been sub- 
mitted by the late seneschal of Touraine, father of Mon- 
seigneur the Count of Roche-Corbon, present advocate 
of the said convent, the Egyptian, named at the baptis- 
mal font Blanche Bruyn. 

To the said abbess we have shortly stated the present 
cause, in which is involved the holy church, the glory of 
God, and the eternal future of the people of the diocese 
afflicted with a demon, and also the life of a creature 
who it was possible might be quite innocent. Then the 
cause elaborated, we have requested the said noble 
abbess to testify that which was within her knowledge 
concerning the magical disappearance of her daughter in 
God, Blanche Bruyn, espoused by our Saviour under 
the name of Sister Claire. 

Then has stated the very high, very noble, and very 
illustrious lady abbess as follows: 

"The Sister Claire, of origin to her unknown, had 


truly been placed in religion in the convent of which the 
government had canonically come to her in spite of her 
unworthiness; that the said sister had properly con- 
cluded her novitiate, and made her vows according to 
the holy rule of the order. That the vows taken, she 
had fallen into great sadness and had much drooped. 
Interrogated by her, the abbess, concerning her melan- 
choly malady, the said sister had replied that she her- 
self did not know the cause. That one thousand and 
one tears engendered themselves in her at feeling no 
more her splendid hair upon her head; that besides this 
she thirsted for air, and could not resist her desire to 
jump up into the trees, to climb and to tumble about 
according to her wont during her open-air life. Then I 
have repeated over and over again to the poor creature 
holy directions of the church, have reminded her of the 
eternal happiness which women without sin enjoy in 
paradise, and how transitory was life here below, and 
certain the goodness of God, who for certain bitter 
pleasures lost, kept for us a love without end. In spite 
of this wise maternal advice the evil spirit has persisted 
in the said sister. Finally, she has grown thin, lost 
much of her great beauty, and shrunk away to nothing. 
While in this condition, by us, the abbess her mother, 
was she placed in the sick-room, we daily expecting her 
to die. One winter's morning the said sister has fled, 
without leaving any trace of her steps, without breaking 
of door, forcing of locks, or opening of windows, nor any 
sign whatever of the manner of her passage; a frightful 
adventure which was believed to have taken place by 
aid of the demon who had annoyed and tormented her. 
For the rest it was settled by the authorities of the met- 
ropolitan church that the mission of this daughter of hell 
was to divert the nuns from their holy ways, and blinded 


by their perfect lives, she had returned through the air 
on the wings of the sorcerer, who had left her, for 
mockery of our holy religion, in the place of the Virgin 

The which having said, the lady abbess was, with 
great honor, and according to the command of our lord 
the archbishop, accompanied as far as the convent of 
Mount Carmel. 

In the eighth place, before us has come, agreeably to 
the citation served upon him, Joseph, called Leschalopier, 
a money-changer, living on the bridge at the sign of the 
Besant d'Or, who, after having pledged his Catholic faith 
to say no other thing than the truth, and that known to 
him, touching the process before the ecclesiastical tribu- 
nal, has testified as follows: " I am a poor father, much 
lafHicted by the sacred will of God. Before the coming 
of the Succubus of the Rue Chaude, I had, for all good, 
a son as handsome as a noble, learned as a clerk, and 
having made more than a dozen voyages into foreign 
lands; for the rest a good Catholic; keeping himself on 
guard against the needles of love, because he avoided 
marriage, knowing himself to be the support of my old 
days, the love of my eyes, and the constant delight of my 
heart. He was a son of whom the king of France might 
have been proud — a good and courageous man, the light 
of my commerce, the joy of my roof, and above all, an 
inestimable blessing seeing that I am alone in the world, 
having had the misfortune to lose my wife and being too 
old to take another. Yes, my lord judge, directly he 
beheld this mischievous jade, this she-devil, in whom is 
a whole work-shop of perdition, a conjunction of pleasure 
and delectation, and whom nothing can satiate, my poor 
child stuck himself fast in the glue-pot of love, and after- 
wards lived only between the columns of Venus, and 


there did not live long. Alas ! then, my poor boy — his 
fortune, his eternal future, his entire self, more than him- 
self, have been engulfed in this sewer, like a grain of 
corn in the jaws of a bull. By this means become an 
old orphan, I who speak, shall have no greater joy than 
to see burning this demon, nourished with blood and 
gold — this Arachne, who has drawn out more marriages, 
more families in the seed, more hearts, more christians 
than there are lepers in all the lazar-houses of Christen- 
dom. Burn, torment this fiend — this vampire who feeds 
on souls, this tigrish nature that drinks blood. Watch 
well, my lord judge, to surely guard this devil, seeing 
that she has a fire more flaming than all the other terres- 
trial fires; she has all the fires of hell in her, the strength 
of Sampson in her hair, and the sound of celestial music 
in her voice. She charms to kill the body and the soul 
at one stroke; she smiles to bite, she kisses to devour; 
in short, she would wheedle an angel and make him deny 
his God. My son! my son ! where is he at this hour? 
The flower of my life— a flower cut by this feminine 
needle-case as with scissors. Ha, my lord ! why have I 
been called ? Who will give me back my son ? This is 
my evidence, which I pray Master Tournebouche to write 
without omitting one iota, and to grant me a schedule, 
that I may tell it to God every evening in my prayer, to 
this end, to make the blood of the innocent cry aloud 
into His ears, and to obtain from His infinite mercy the 
pardon of my son." 

Here followed twenty and seven other statements, of 
which the transcription in their true objectivity, in all 
their quality of space, would be over fastidious, would 
draw to a great length, and divert the thread of this 
curious process. 

A thousand other statements, sayings and depositions, 


from which was evident in perfect clearness the infernal 
generation of this woman, daughter, sister, niece, spouse, 
or brother of the devil, besides abundant proofs of her 
evil doing, and of the calamity spread by her in all fam- 
ilies. And if it were possible to put them here comfort- 
ably with the catalogue preserved by the good man to 
whom is due the discovery, it would seem like a sample 
of the horrible cries which the Egyptians gave forth on 
the day of the seventh plague. Also this examination 
has covered with great honor Messire Guillaume Tourne- 
bouche, by whom are quoted all the memoranda. In the 
tenth vacation was thus closed this inquest, arrived at a 
maturity of proof, furnished with authentic testimony, 
and sufficiently engrossed with the particulars, plaints, 
interdicts, contradictions, charges, assignments, with- 
drawals, confessions public and private, oaths, adjourn- 
ments, appearances, and controversies, to which the said 
demon must reply. And the townspeople say every- 
where that were she really a she-devil, and furnished 
with internal horns planted in her nature, with which she 
drank the men, and broke them, this woman might swim 
a long time in this sea of writing before being landed safe 
and sound in hell. 



In the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and 
seventy-one, before us, Hierome Cornille, grand peniten- 
tiary and ecclesiastical judge, to this canonically ap- 
pointed, have appeared — 

The Sire Philippe d'Idr6, Dailiff of the town and city 


of Tours and province of Touraine, living in his hotel in 
the Rue de la Rotisserie, in Chateauneuf; Master Jehan 
Ribou, provost of the brotherhood and company of 
drapers, residing on the Quay de Bretaingne, at the 
image of St. Pierre-es-liens; Messire Antoine Jehan, al- 
derman and chief of the brotherhood of changers, resid- 
ing in the Place du Pont, at the image of St. Mark — 
counting-tournoise-pounds; Master Beaupertuys, captain 
of the archers of the town residing at the castle; Jehan 
Rabelais, a ships' painter and boat-maker residing at the 
port of the isle of St. Jacques, treasurer of the brother- 
hood of the mariners of the Loire; Mark Hierome, called 
Maschefer, hosier, at the sign of Saint-S£bastien, presi- 
dent of the trades council; and Jacques, called de Ville- 
domer, master tavern-keeper and vine-dresser, residing 
in the High Street, at the Pomme de Pin; to the said 
Sire d'Idre, and to the said citizens, we have read the fol- 
lowing petition, by them written, signed, and deliber- 
ated upon, to be brought under the notice of the ec- 
clesiastical tribunal: 


We, the undersigned, all citizens of Tours, are come 
into the hotel of his worship the Sired'Idr£, bailiff of Tou- 
raine, in the absence of our mayor, and have requested 
him to hear our plaints and statements concerning the 
following facts, which we intend to bring before the tri- 
bunal of the archbishop, the judge of ecclesiastical 
crimes, to whom should be deferred the conduct of the 
cause which we here expose: 

A long time ago there came into this town a wicked 
demon in the form of a woman, who lives in the parish of 
Saint-Etienne, in the house of an innkeeper Tortebras, 
situated in the quit-rent of the chapter, and under the 
temporal jurisdiction of the archiepiscopal domain. 


The which foreigner carries on the business of a gay 
woman in a prodigal and abusive manner, and with such 
increase of infamy that she threatens to ruin the Catho- 
lic faith in this town, because those who go to her come 
back again their souls lost in every way, and refuse the 
assistance of the church with a thousand scandalous 

Considering that it is a question of the honor and se- 
curity of our families, and that never before has been seen 
in this country a woman wild of body or a daughter of 
pleasure, carrying on with such mischief her vocation 
of light o* love, and menacing so openly and bitterly 
the life, the savings, the morals, chastity, religion, and 
the everything of the inhabitants of this town; 

Considering that there is need of an inquiry into her 
person, her wealth, and her deportment, in order to ver- 
ify if these effects of love are legitimate; 

Considering that in the case of the said woman a 
thousand proofs of diablerie are met with, of which cer- 
tain inhabitants speak openly, and that it is necessary for 
the repose of the said woman that the matter be sifted, 
in order that she shall not be attacked by certain people, 
ruined by the result of her wickedness; 

For these causes we pray that it will please you to sub- 
mit to our spiritual lord, father of this diocese, the most 
noble and blessed Archbishop Jehan de Monsoreau, 
the troubles of his afflicted flock, to the end that he may 
advise upon them. 

By so doing you will fulfil the duties of your office, as 
we do those of preservers of the security of this town, 
each one according to the things of which he has charge 
in his locality. 

And we have signed the present, in the year of our 


Lord one thousand two hundred and seventy-one, on All 
Saints' Day, after mass. 

Master Tournebouche having finished the reading of 
this petition, by us, Hkhrome Cornille, has it been said 
to the petitioners: 

"Gentlemen, do you, at the present time, persist in 
these statements? have you proofs other than those come 
within our own knowledge, and do you undertake to 
maintain the truth of this before God, before man, and 
before the accused? " 

All, with the exception of Master Jehan Rabelais, have 
persisted in their belief, and the aforesaid Rabelais has 
withdrawn from the process, saying that he considered 
the said Moorish woman to be a natural woman and a 
good wench, who had no other fault than that of keeping 
up a very high temperature of love. 

Then we, the judge appointed, have, after mature de- 
liberation, found matter upon which to proceed in the 
petition of the aforesaid citizens, and have commanded 
that the woman at present in the gaol of the chapter 
shall be proceeded against by all legal methods, as writ- 
ten in the canons and ordinances, contra dcemonios. The 
said ordinance, embodied in a writ, shall be published 
by the town-crier in all parts, and with the sound of a 
trumpet, in order to make it known to all, and that each 
witness may, according to his knowledge, be confronted 
with the said demon, and finally the said accused to be 
provided with a defender, according to custom, and the 
interrogations and the process to be congruously con- 
ducted. (Signed) 

Hierome Cornille. 
(And, lower down,) Tournebouche. 

In the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred 
and seventy-one, the 10th day of February, after mass, 


by command of us, Hierome Cornille, ecclesiastical judge, 
has been brought from the gaol of the chapter and led 
before us the woman taken in the house of the innkeeper 
Tortebras. In consequence of the nature of the crimes 
imputed to her, she is liable to the tribunal and council 
of ecclesiastical justice, the which we have made known 
to her, to the end that she should not ignore it 

In the first interrogation we have requested the afore- 
said to inform us in what land or town she had been 
born. By her who speaks was it answered; "In Maur- 

We have then inquired: "If she had a father or 
mother, or any relations ? " By her who speaks has it 
been replied: " That she had never known them." By 
us requested to declare her name. By her who speaks 
has been replied: "Zulma," in the Arabian tongue. 

By us has it been demanded: "Why she spoke our 
language?" By her who speaks has it been said: " Be- 
cause she had come into this country." By us has it 
been asked: "At what time?" By her who speaks has 
it been replied: "About twelve years." 

By us has it been asked: "What age she then was ?" 
By her who speaks has it been answered : ' i Fifteen years, 
or thereabout." 

By us it has been said : "Then you acknowledge 
yourself to be twenty-seven years of age?" By her 
who speaks has it been replied : "Yes. " 

By us has it been said to her: "That she was then 
the Moorish child found in the niche of Madame the 
Virgin, baptized by the archbishop, held at the font by 
the late Lord of Roche-Corbon and the Lady of Azay, 
his wife, afterwards by them placed in religion at the 
convent of Mount Carmel, where by her had been 
made vows of chastity, poverty, silence, and the love 


of God, under the divine assistance of St. Claire?" By 
her who speaks has it been said : "That is true. " 

By us has it been asked her : "If, then, she allowed 
to be true the declarations of the very noble and illus- 
trious lady, the abbess of Mount Carmel, also the state- 
ment of Jacquette, called Vieux-Oing, being kitchen 
scullion?" By the accused has it been answered: 
"These words are true in a great measure." 

Then by us has it been said to her : "Then you are 
a christian?" And by her who speaks has been an- 
swered : "Yes, my father. " 

Then by us has she been requested to make the sign 
of the cross, and to take holy water from a brush placed 
by Master Tournebouche in her hand ; the which 
having done, and by us having been witnessed, it has 
been admitted as an indisputable fact that Zulma, the 
Moorish woman, called in our country Blanche Bruyn, 
a nun of the convent under the invocation of Mount 
Carmel, there named Sister Claire, and suspected to be 
the false appearance of a woman under which is con- 
cealed by a demon, has in our presence made act of 
religion, and thus recognized the justice of the ecclesi- 
astical tribunal. 

Then by us have these words been said to her : "My 
daughter, you are vehemently suspected to have had 
recourse to the devil from the manner in which you 
left the convent, which was supernatural in every way. " 

By her who speaks it has been stated, that she at 
that time gained naturally the fields by the street door 
after vespers, enveloped in the robes of Jehan de 
Marsilis, visitor of the convent, who had hidden her, 
the person speaking, in a little hovel belonging to him, 
situated in the Cupidon Lane, near a tower in the 
town. That there this said priest had to her then 


speaking, at great length, and most thoroughly, taught 
the delights of love, of which she then speaking, was 
before in all points ignorant, for which delights she had 
a great taste, finding them of good use. That the Sire 
d'Amboise having perceived her then speaking at the 
window of this retreat, had been smitten with a great 
love for her. Then she, loving him more heartily than 
the monk, has fled from the hovel where she was de- 
tained for profit of his pleasure by Don Marsilis. And 
then she has gone in great haste to Amboise, the castle 
of the said lord, where she had had a thousand pastimes, 
hunting, and dancing, and beautiful dresses fit for a 
queen. One day the Sire de la Roche-Pozay having 
been invited by the Sire d'Amboise to come and feast 
and enjoy himself, the Baron d'Amboise had allowed 
him to see her then speaking, as she came out from 
her bath. That at this sight the said Sire de la Roche- 
Pozay having fallen violently in love with her, had on 
the morrow discomfited in single combat the Sire 
d' Amboise, and by great violence had, in spite of her 
tears, taken her to the Holy Land, where she who was 
speaking had led the life of a woman well beloved, and 
been held in great respect on account of her great 
beauty. That after numerous adventures, she who was 
speaking returned into this country in spite of her 
apprehensions of misfortune. Now he had promised 
her who was speaking to preserve her from all peril. 
Now she who was speaking had faith and belief in 
him, the more so as she loved him very much; but on 
his arrival in this country the Sire de Bueil was seized 
with an illness, and died deplorably, without taking 
any remedies, in spite of the fervent requests which 
she who was speaking had addressed to him, but with- 
out success, because he hated physicians, master-sur- 


geons, and apothecaries; and that this was the whole 

Then by us has it been said to the accused that she 
then held to be true the statements of the good Sire 
Harduin and of the innkeeper Tortebras. By her who 
speaks has it been replied, that she recognized as 
evidence the greater part, and also as malicious, 
calumnious, and imbecile certain portions. 

Then by us has the accused been required to declare 
if she had had pleasure and carnal commerce with all 
the men, nobles, citizens, and others as set forth in 
the plaints and declarations of the inhabitants. To 
which by her who speaks has it been answered with 
great effrontery : "Pleasure, yes ! Commerce, I do 
not know. " 

Then by us has she been requested to answer, under 
pain of torture, in what state of mind she was when a 
young nobleman died in consequence of his commerce 
with her. Then by her speaking has it been replied, 
that she remained quite melancholy and wished to 
destroy herself; and prayed God, the Virgin, and the 
saints to receive her in Paradise, because never had she 
met with any but lovely and good hearts in which was 
no guile, and beholding them die she fell into great 
sadness, fancying herself to be an evil creature or sub- 
ject to an evil fate, which she communicated like the 

Then by us has it been demanded why she never 
frequented the churches, the offices, nor the feasts. To 
this by her speaking has it been answered, that those 
who came to love her had elected the feast days for 
that purpose, and that she speaking did all things to 
their liking. 

By us has it been remonstrated that;, by so doing, 


she was submissive to man rather than to the com- 
mandments of God. Then by her speaking has it been 
stated, that for those who loved her well she speaking 
would have thrown herself into a flaming pile, never 
having followed in her love any course but that of 
nature, and that for the weight of the world in gold she 
would not have lent her love to a king, who did not 
love her with his heart, feet, head, hair, forehead and 
all over. 

Then by us has she been requested to state whence 
proceeded the jewels, gold plate, silver, precious stones, 
regal furniture, carpets, et cetera, worth two hundred 
thousand doubloons, according to the inventory found in 
her residence and placed in the custody of the treasurer 
of the chapter. By the speaker answer has been made, 
that in us has she placed all her hopes, even as much 
as in God but that she dare not reply to this, because 
it involved the sweetest things of love upon which she 
had always lived. And interpellated anew, the speaker 
has said that if we, the judge, knew with what fervor 
she held him she loved, with what happiness she list- 
ened to his desires, and inhaled the sacred words with 
which his mouth gratified her, in what adoration she 
held his person, even we, an old judge, would believe 
with her well-beloved, that no sum could pay for this 
great affection which all the men ran after. And the 
speaker has declared never, from any man loved by 
her, to have solicited any present or gift, and that she 
rested perfectly contented to live in their hearts. But 
in spite of the iterated refusals of the speaker her 
lovers persisted in graciously rewarding her. At times 
one came to her with a necklace of pearls saying, 
"This is to show my darling that the satin of her skin 
did not falsely appear to me whiter than pearls ;" and 


would put it on the speaker's neck, kissing her lovingly. 
The speaker would be angry at these follies, but could 
not refuse to keep a jewel that gave them pleasure to 
see it there where they had placed it. At times another 
liked to tear the precious garments which the speaker 
wore to gratify him ; and another to deck out the speaker 
with sapphires on her arms, on her neck and in her 
hair ; another to seat her on the carpet, robed in silk 
or black velvet, and to remain for days together in 
ecstacy at the perfections of the speaker, to whom the 
things desired by her lovers gave infinite pleasure, be- 
cause these things rendered them quite happy. This ter- 
minates the first interrogation made to the said Sister St. 
Claire, suspected to be a demon, because we the judge 
and Guillaume Tournebouche are greatly fatigued with 
having the voice of the aforesaid in our ears, and find 
ing our understanding in every way muddled. 

By us, the judge, has the second interrogatory been 
appointed, three days from to-day, in order that the 
proofs of the possession and presence of the demon in 
the body of the aforesaid may be sought, and the 
accused, according to the order of the judge, has been 
taken back to the gaol, under the conduct of Master 
Guillaume Tournebouche. 

On the thirteenth day following of the said month of 
February, before us, Hi^rome Cornille, et cetera, has 
been produced the Sister Claire above mentioned, in 
order to be interrogated upon the facts and deeds to 
her imputed, and of them to be convicted. 

By us, the judge, has it been said to the accused that 
looking at the diverse responses by her given to the 
preceding interrogatories, it was certain that it never 


had been in the power of a simple woman, even if she 
were authorize!, if such license were allowed, to lead 
the life of a loose woman, to give pleasure to all, and 
to accomplish sorceries so perfect, without the assistance 
of a special demon lodged in her body, and to whom 
her soul had been sold by an especial compact. By the 
speaker was it replied that she would answer us, man, 
as to God, who should be judge of all of us. Then has 
the speaker pretended never to have seen the demon/ 
neither to have spoken with him, nor in any way to 
desire to see him ; never to have led the life of a cour- 
tesan, because she, the speaker, had never practiced the 
various delights that love invents, other than those fur- 
nished by the pleasure which the sovereign Creator has 
put in the thing, and to have always been incited more 
from the desire of being sweet and good to the dear 
lord loved by her, than by an incessantly raging desire. 
But if such had been her inclination, the speaker had 
begged us to bear in mind that she was a poor African 
girl, in whom God had placed very hot blood, and in 
her brain so easy an understanding of the delights of 
love, that if a man only looked at her she felt greatly 
moved in her heart. Since the day when Don Marsilis 
had first awakened the understanding of the speaker 
concerning these things, she had never had any other 
thought, and thenceforth recognized love to be a thing 
so perfectly concordant with her nature, that it had 
since been proved to the speaker that in default of love 
and natural relief she would have died, withered at the 
said convent. 

To this was it objected by us, Hi6rome Cornille, to 
the said demon, that in response she had openly blas- 
phemed against God, because we had all been made to 
his greater glory, and placed in the world to honor and 


to serve Him, to have before our eyes His blessed 
commandments, and to live in sanctity, in order to gain 
eternal life. Then by the said sister has answer been 
made, that she honored God greatly, that in all coun- 
tries she had taken care of the poor and suffering, giv- 
ing them both money and raiment, and that at the last 
judgment-day she hoped to have round her a goodly 
company of holy works pleasant to God, which would 
intercede for her. 

Then by us has it been said to this demon that she 
could not justify the fact of her sterility, because in 
spite of so much commerce no child had been born of 
her, the which proved the presence of a demon in her. 
Moreover, Astaroth alone, or anapos:le could speak all 
languages, and "she spoke after the manner of all coun- 
tries, the which proved the presence of the devil in her. 
Therepon the speaker has asked : "In what consisted 
the said diversity of languages " that cf Greek she 
knew nothing save Kyrie eleison, of which she made 
great use ; of Latin, nothing save Amen, which she 
said to God, wishing therewith to obtain her liberty. 
That for the rest the speaker had felt great sorrow, 
being without children, and if the good wives had them, 
she believed it was because they had been so little con- 
cerned. But that such was doubtless the will of God, 
who thought that from too great happiness the world 
would be in danger of perishing. Taking this into 
consideration, and a thousand other reasons, which 
sufficiently establish the presence of a devil in the body 
of the sister, because the peculiar property of Lucifer 
is to always find heretical arguments having the sem- 
blance of truth, we have ordered that in our presence 
the torture be applied to the said accused, and that 
she be well tormented, in order to reduce the said 

Droll Stories— 20 


demon by suffering to submit to the authority of the 
church, and have requested to render us asisstance 
one Francois de Hangest, master-surgeon and doctor 
to the chapter, charging him by a codicil hereunder 
written to investigate the qualities of the feminine 
nature of the above-mentioned woman, to enlighten our 
religion upon the methods employed by this demon to 
lay hold of souls in that way. 

Then the said Moorish woman has wept bitterly, 
tortured in advance, and, in spite of her irons, has 
knelt down imploring with cries and clamor the revo- 
cation of this order, objecting that her bones were so 
tender, that they would break like glass ; and finally, 
has offered to purchase her freedom from this by the 
gift of all hqr goods to the chapter, and to quit incon- 
tinently the country. 

•Upon this, by us has she been required to voluntarily 
declare herself to be, and to have always been, a demon 
of the nature of a Succubus, which is a female devil 
whose business it is to corrupt christians by the bland- 
ishments and flagitious delights of love. To this the 
speaker has replied that the affirmation would be an 
abominable falsehood, seeing that she had always felt 
herself to be a most natural woman. 

Then her irons being struck off by the torturer, the 
aforesaid has removed her dress, and has maliciousy 
and with evil design bewildered and attacked our under- 
standings with the sights of her body, the which, for a 
fact, exercises upon a man supernatural coercion. 

This finishes the second interrogatory ; and as the 
apparitor and janitor of the chapter have stated Master 
Francois de Hangest to be in the country, the torture 
and interrogations are appointed fo*r to-morrow at the 
hour of noon, after mass. 


This has been written verbally by me, Hierome, in 
the absence of Master Guillaume Tournebouche, on 
whose behalf it is signed. 

Hierome Cornille, 
Grand Penitentiary. 


To-day, the fourteenth day of the month of February, 
in the presence of me, Hierome Cornille, have appeared 
the said Masters Jehan Ribou, Antoine Jahan, Martin 
Beaupertuys, Hierome Maschefer, Jacques de Ville 
d'Omer, and the Sire dTdre, in place of the Mayor of 
the City of Tours, for the time absent — all plaintiffs 
designated in the act of process made at the Town Hall, 
to whom we have, at the request of Blanche Bruyn, 
(now confessing herself a nun of the convent of Mount 
Carmel, under the name of Sister Claire, ) declared the 
appeal made to the judgment of God by the said per- 
son accused of demoniacal possession, and her offer to 
pass through the ordeal of water and of fire, in presence 
of the chapter and of the town of Tours, in order to 
prove her reality as a woman and her innocence. 

To this request have agreed, for their parts, the said 
accusers, who, on condition that the town is security 
for it, have engaged to prepare a suitable place and a 
pile, to be approved by the god-parents of the accused. 

Then by us, the judge, has the first day of the new 
year been appointed for the day of ordeal — which will 
be next Paschal day and we have indicated the hour of 
noon, after mass, each of the parties having acknowl- 
edged this delay to be sufficient. 

And the present proclamation shall be cried, at the 
suit of each of them, in all the towns, boroughs and 


castles of Touraine and the land of France, at their 
request and at their cost and suit. 




This is the act of extreme confession made the first day of 
the month of March, in the year one thousand two hundred 
and seventy-one , by Hierome Cornille, grand penitentiary ', of 
all acknowledging himself unworthy who, finding his last 
hour to be come, and contrite of his sins and wickednesses, 
has desired his avowal to be published to be an alleviation to 
him of his punishment in the other world. 

And before him, Hierome, who by reason of his great 
weakness could not speak, has Don Louis Pot, read the 
following confession to the great agitation of the said 
company: "My brethren, until the seventy-first year of 
my age, I believe I led a christian life, and merited the 
praise and renown bestowed upon me in this diocese, 
where I was raised to the high office of grand penitenti- 
ary, of which I am unworthy. Now, horrified at the 
agonies which await the wicked and prevaricators in 
hell, I have thought to lessen the enormity of my sins by 
the greatest penitence I can show in the extreme hour at 
which I am. Thus I have prayed to the church, whom 
I have deceived and betrayed, to grant me the opportu- 
nity of accusing myself publicly in the manner of the 
ancient christians. In this great shipwreck of my fragile 


virtue I have been so bewitched by Lucifer that our 
Saviour Jesus Christ will take, by the intercession of all 
you whose help and prayers I request, pity on me, a poor 
abused christian whose eyes now stream with tears. So 
would I have another life to spend in works of penitence. 
Now then listen and tremble with great fear! Elected 
by the assembled chapter to complete the process com- 
menced against a demon, who had appeared in a femin- 
ine shape, in the person of a relapsed nun, I have, 
I, the judge, fallen in my latter days into this snare, and 
have lost my senses, while acquitting myself traitorously 
of the functions committed with great confidence by the 
chapter to my cold senility. While listening to the first 
response of the aforesaid Succubus, I saw with horror 
that the irons placed upon her feet and hands left no 
mark there, and was astonished at her hidden strength 
and at her apparent weakness. I listened to the music 
of her voice, which warmed me from head to foot, and 
made me desire to give myself up to this demon, think- 
ing that for an hour passed in her company my eternal 
salvation was but poor payment for the pleasure of love 
tasted in those slender arms. This demon by me ques- 
tioned, reasoned with me in such a manner that at the 
second interrogatory I was firmly persuaded I should be 
committing a crime in fining and torturing a poor little 
creature who cried like an innocent child. Then, 
warned by a voice from on high to do my duty, and that 
these golden words were diabolical mummeries, that this 
body, so pretty, so infatuating, would transmit itself into 
a bristly beast with sharp claws, those eyes so soft into 
flames of hell, her pretty rosebud mouth and gentle lips 
into the jaws of a crocodile, I came back to my intention 
of having the said Succubus tortured until she avowed 
her mission, as this practice had already been followed 


In Christianity. Now when this demon showed herself 
to me, to be put to the torture, I was suddenly placed in 
her power by magical conjurations. I felt my old bones 
crack and my heart transhipped young and boiling 
blood. I had not the power to make the sign of the 
cross, neither did I remember the church, God the 
Father, nor the sweet Saviour of men. Then, pierced 
and drawn by a blow of the devil's fork, who had planted 
himself already in my head as a serpent in an oak, I was 
conducted by this sharp prong towards the jail, in spite 
of my guardian angel, who from time to time pulled me 
by the arm and defended me against these temptations, 
but in spite of his holy advice and his assistance I was 
dragged by a million claws stuck into my heart, and 
soon found myself in the jail. As soon as the door was 
opened to me I saw no longer any appearance of a prison 
because the Succubus had there, with the assistance of 
evil genii or fays, constructed a pavilion of purple and 
silk, full of perfumes and flowers, where she was seated, 
superbly attired with neither irons on her neck nor chains 
on her feet. I allowed myself to be stripped of my 
ecclesiastical vestments, and was put into a scent-bath. 
Then the demon covered me with a Saracen robe, enter- 
tained me with a repast of rare viands contained in 
precious vases, gold cups, Asiatic wines, songs, and 
marvelous music, and a thousand sweet sounds that 
tickled my soul by means of my ears. I lived only by 
the terrible light of the Moorish woman's eyes, coveted 
the warm embraces of the delicate body, wished always 
to feel her red lips, that I believed natural, and had 
no fear of the bite of those teeth which drew one to 
the bottom of hell. In short, I acted like a hus- 
band desiring to go to his affianced, without thinking 
that that spouse was everlasting death. Alas! my 


brethren, during three days and three nights was 
I thus constrained to toil without being able to stop the 
stream which flowed from my veins, in which were 
plunged the hands of the Succubus, which communicated 
to my poor old age and my dried up bones, I know not 
what sweat of love. At first this demon, to draw me to 
her, caused to flow in my inside the softness of milk, 
then came poignant joys which pricked Lke a hundred 
needles my bones my marrow, my brain and my nerves. 
The tresses of this demon, which enveloped my poor 
body, poured upon me a stream of flame, and I felt each 
look like a bar of red iron. Duriug this mortal delecta- 
tion I saw the ardent face of the said Succubus, who 
laughed and addressed to me a thousand exciting words. 
Hearing which, under the prick of this tongue which 
sucked out my soul, I plunged and precipitated myself 
finally into hell without finding the bottom. And then 
when my heart no longer beat in my body, and I was 
ruined at all points, the demon, still fresh, white, rubi- 
cund, glowing and laughing, said to me: 

" { Poor fool, to think me a demon ! Had I asked thee 
to sell me thy soul for a kiss, wouldst thou not give it me 
with all thy heart ? ' 

"'Yes,' said I. 

" 'And if always to act thus it were necessary for thee 
to nourish thyself with the blood of new-born children, 
in order always to have new life to spend in my arms, 
would you not imbibe it willingly ? ' 

" < Yes/ said I. 

"'And to be always my gallant horseman, gay as a 
man in his prime, feeling life, drinking pleasure, plung- 
ing to the depths of joy as a swimmer into the Loire, 
wouldst thou not deny God, wouldst thou not spit in the 
face of Jesus ? ' 


"'Yes/ said I. 

"Then I felt a hundred sharp claws which tore my 
diaphragm as if the beaks of a thousand birds there took 
their bellyfulls, shrieking. Then I was lifted suddenly 
above the earth upon the said Succubus who had spread 
her wings, and cried to me: 

li i Ride, ride, my gallant rider ! Hold yourself firmly 
on the back of thy mule, by her mane, by her neck; and 
ride, ride, my gallant rider ! ' And then I saw as a thick 
fog, the cities of the earth, where by a special gift I per- 
ceived each one coupled with a female demon, and toss- 
ing about, engendering in great concupiscence, all shriek- 
ing a thousand words of love and exclamations of all 
kinds, and all toiling away with ecstacy. Then still ris- 
ing I saw overhead the female nature of all things in love 
with the Prince of Movement. Now, by way of mock- 
ery, the Succubus placed me in the center of this horrible 
and perpetual conflict, where I was lost as a grain of sand 
in the sea. Now, thinking how little was a priest in this 
torrent of the seed of worlds, nature always clasped 
together, and metals, stones, waters, air, thunders, fish, 
plants, animals, men, spirits, worlds and planets all em- 
bracing with rage, I denied the Catholic faith. Then the 
Succubus pointing out to me the great patch of stars 
seen in the heavens, said to me, 'That way is a drop 
of celestial seed escaped from the great flow of the 
worlds in conjunction. ' Thereupon I instantly clasped 
the Succubus with my arms by the light of a thous- 
and million of stars, and I wished in clasping her to 
feel the nature of those thousand million of creatures. 
Then by this great effort of love I fell impotent in every 
way, and heard a great infernal laugh. Then I found 
myself in my bed, surrounded by my servitors, who had had 
the courage to struggle with the demon, throwing into the 


bed where I was stretched a basin full of holy water, 
and saying fervent prayers to God. Then had I to sus- 
tain, in spite of this assistance, a horrible combat with the 
said Succubus, whose claws still clutched my heart, caus- 
ing me infinite pains. Nevertheless, taking pity on me, 
my lord the archbishop caused the relics of St. Gatien 
to be brought, and the moment the shrine had touched my 
bed the said Succubus was obliged to depart, leaving an 
odor of sulphur and of hell, which made the throats of my 
servants, friends, and others sore for a whole day. 
Then the celestial light of God having enlightened my 
soul, 1 knew that I was, through my sins and my combat 
with the evil spirit, in great danger of dying. Then did 
I implore the especial mercy, to live just a little time to 
render glory to God and to his church, objecting the in- 
finite merits of Jesus dead upon the cross for the salva- 
tion of christians. By this pra}^er I obtained the favor 
of recovering sufficient strength to accuse myself of my 
sins, and to beg of the members of the Church of St. 
Maurice their aid and assistance to deliver me from pur- 
gatory, where I am about to atone for my faults by infi- 
nite agonies. And, in conclusion, I give and bequeath to 
the chapter of the Church of St. Maurice my property of 
all kinds, to found a chapter in the said church, to build 
it and adorn it, and put it under tne invocation of St. 
Hierome and St. Gatien, of whom the one is my pa- 
tron and the other the saviour of my soul." 

This, heard by all the company, has been brought 
to the notice of the ecclesiastical tribunal by Jehan de 
la Haye (Johannes de Haga.) 

We, Jehan de la Haye (Johannes de Haga), elected 
grand penitentiary of St. Maurice by the general assembly 
of the chapter, and appointed to pursue afresh the trial 
of the demon Succubus, at present in the gaol of the 


chapter, have ordered a new inquest, at the which will be 
heard all those of this diocese having cognizance of the 
facts relative thereto. We declare void the other pro- 
ceedings, interrogations, and decrees, and annul them 
in the name of the members of the church in general, 
and sovereign chapter assembled, and declare that the 
appeal to God, traitorously made by the demon, shall not 
take place, in consequence of the notorious treachery 
of the devil in this affair. And the said judgment shall 
be cried by sound of trumpet in all parts of the diocese 
in which have been published the false edicts of the pre- 
ceding month, all notoriously due to the instigations of 
the demon, according to the confession of the late Hier- 
ome Cornille. 

Let all good christians be of assistance to our Holy 
Chureh, and to her commandments. 

Jehan de la Haye. 







This was written in the month of May, of the year 1360, 
after the manner of a testament. 

"My very dear and well-beloved son, when it shall 
be lawful for thee to read this I shall be, I, thy 
father, reposing in the tomb, imploring thy prayers, and 
supplicating thee to conduct thyself in life as it will be 
commanded thee in this rescript, bequeathed for the 


good government of thy family, thy future and safety. 
In my virile age I had a great ambition to raise myself 
in the church, because no life appeared to me more 
splendid. Now with this earnest idea, I learned to 
read and to write, and with great trouble became in 
a fit condition to enter the clergy. But because I had 
no protection I had an idea of becoming the writer, 
tabellion, and rubrican of the chapter of St. Maurice, 
in which were the highest and richest personages of 
Christendom. Now there I should be able better than 
elsewhere to find services to render to certain lords, and 
by this assistance enter into religion, and be mitred and 
ensconced in an archiepiscopal chair, somewhere or 
other. But this first vision was overcredulous, the 
which God caused me clearly to perceive by the sequel. 
In fact, Messire Jehan de Villedomer, who afterwards 
became cardinal, was given this appointment, and I 
was rejected, discomfited. Now in this unhappy hour 
I received an alleviation of my troubles, by the advice 
of the good old Hi^rome Cornille, of whom I have 
often spoken to you. This dear man induced me to 
become penman to the chapter of St. Maurice and the 
archbishop of Tours, the which offer I accepted with joy, 
since I was reputed a good scrivener. At the time I was 
about to enter into the presbytery commenced the 
famous process against the devil of the Rue Chaude. 
Now believing that it would be of great advantage to 
my ambition, my good master had me appointed for 
the purpose of writing. all that should be in this grave 
cause, subject to writing. As soon as the depositions 
were completed, and the poor wench heard, it remained 
clear that although this merry doxy had broken her 
religious vows, she was innocent of all deviltry, and 
that her great wealth was coveted by her enemies, and 


other persons, whom I must not name to thee for 
reasons of prudence. At this time every one believed 
her to be so well furnished with silver and gold that 
she could have bought the whole county of Touraine, 
if so it had pleased her. At this period Master Hierome 
Cornille, having ascertained that no demon other than 
that of love was in this girl, made her consent to remain 
in a convent for the remainder of her days. And 
having ascertained from certain noble knights that they 
would do everything to save her, he invited her secretly 
to demand of her accusers the judgment of God, at 
the same time giving her goods to the chapter, in order 
to silence mischievous tongues. By this means would 
be saved from the stake the most delicate flower that 
ever heaven has allowed to fall upon our earth. But 
the real devil, under the form of a monk, mixed him- 
self up in this affair ; in this wise : a great enemy of the 
virtue, wisdom and sanctity of Monseigneur Hierome 
Cornille, named Jehan de la Haye, having learned that 
in the gaol the poor girl was treated like a queen, 
wickedly accused- the grand penitentiary of connivance 
with her and of being her servitor. In fact our lord 
the archbishop visited the gaol, and found the Moorish 
woman in a pleasant place, reposing comfortably and 
without irons, because she had purchased the clemency 
of her gaoler. At the time certain persons said that 
this gaoler was smitten with her, and that from love he 
had planned her escape. The good man Cornille being 
at the point of death, through the treachery of Jehan 
de la Haye, the chapter thinking it necessary to make 
null and void the proceedings taken by the penitentiary, 
and also his decrees, the said Jehan de la Haye, at 
that time a simple vicar of the cathedral, pointed out 
that to do this it would be sufficient to obtain a public 


confession from the good man on his death-bed. Then 
was the moribund tortured and tormented by the gentle- 
men of the chapter, those of Saint Martin, those 01 
Marmoustiers, by the archbishop, and also by the 
pope's legate, in order that he might recant to the 
advantage of the church, to which the good man 
would not consent. But after a thousand ills, his 
public confession was prepared, at which the most note- 
worthy people of the town assisted, and the which spread 
more horror and consternation than I can describe. 
The truth of it is that the good Master Hierome had 
the fever, and saw cows in his room, and then was this 
recantation obtained of him. The access passed, the 
poor saint wept copiously on learning this trick from 
me. In fact, he died in my arms, assisted by his phy- 
sician, heart-broken at this mummery, telling us that he 
was going to the feet of God to pray him to prevent the 
consummation of this deplorable iniquity. This poor 
Moorish woman had touched him much by her tears 
and repentance. Then, my dear son, knowing by the 
statements made in the town, and b)^ the naive re- 
sponses of this unhappy wretch, all the trickery of this 
affair, I determined, by the advice of Master Francois 
de Hangest, physician of the chapter, to feign an illness 
and quit the service of the Church of St. Maurice and 
of the archbishopric, in order not to dip my hands in the 
innocent blood, which still cries and will continue to 
cry aloud unto God, until the day of the last judgment. 
Then was the gaoler dismissed, and in his place was put 
the second son of the torturer who threw the Moorish 
woman into a dungeon, and inhumanly put upon her 
hands and feet irons weighing fifty pounds, besides a 
wooden waist-band ; and the gaol was watched by the 
crossbowmen of the town and the people of the arch- 


bishop. The wench was tormented and tortured, and 
her bones were broken ; conquered by sorrow, she 
made an avowal according to the wishes of Jehan de 
la Haye, and was instantly condemned to be burned in 
the enclosure of St. Etienne, having been previously 
placed in the portals of the church, attired in a che- 
mise of sulphur, and her goods given over to the 
chapter, et cetera. This order was the cause of great 
disturbances and fighting in the town, because three 
young knights of Touraine swore to die in the service 
of the poor girl, and to deliver her in all possible ways. 
Then they came into town, accompanied by thousands 
of sufferers, laboring people, and others, whom the said 
girl had succored, saved from misfortune, from hunger 
and misery, and searched all the poor dwellings of the 
town where lay those to whom she had done good. 
Thus all were stirred up and called together to the plain 
of Mount-Louis under the protection of the soldiers of 
the said lords ; they had for companions all the scape- 
graces of twenty leagues round, and came one morning 
to lay siege to the prison of the archbishop, demanding 
that the Moorish woman should be given up to them 
as though they would put her to death, but in fact to 
set her free, and to place her secretly upon a swift 
horse, that she might gain the open country, seeing 
that she rode so well. Then in this frightful tempest 
of men have we seen between the battlements of the 
archiepiscopal palace and the bridges, more than ten 
thousand men swarming, besides those who were 
perched upon the roofs of the houses and climbing on 
all the balconies to see the sedition. The suffocation and 
squeezing of bodies was so great in this immense crowd, 
bloodthirsty for the poor creature at whose knees 
they would have fallen had they had the opportunity 


of seeing her, that seven children, eleven women, and 
eight citizens were crushed and smashed beyond all 
recognition, since they were like splodges of mud. All 
cried, 'Death to the Succubus ! Throw out the 
demon ! Ha! Pd like her head ! The foot for me, 
the mane for thee! Death to her! death to her!' 
Each one had his say. But the cry, 'Largesse to 
God ! Death to the Succubus !' was yelled at the 
same time by the crowd so hoarsely and so cruelly that 
one's ears and heart bled therefrom ; and the other cries 
were scarcely heard in the houses. The archbishop 
decided in order to. calm this storm which threatened 
to overthrow everything, to come out with great pomp 
from the church, bearing the host, which would deliver 
the chapter from ruin. Now by this stratagem the 
crowd was obliged to break up, and from lack of pro 
visions return to their houses. Then the monks of 
Touraine, the lords, and the citizens, in great appre- 
hension of pillage on the morrow, held a nocturnal 
council, and accepted the advice of the chapter. By 
their efforts the men-at-arms, archers, knights and 
citizens in a large number, kept watch, and killed a 
party of shepherds, road-menders and vagrants, who, 
knowing the disturbed state of Tour^, came to swell 
the ranks of the malcontents. Messire Harduin de 
Maille, an old nobleman, reasoned with the young 
knights, who were the champions of the Moorish woman, 
and argued sagely with them, asking them if for so 
small a woman they wished to put Touraine to fire and 
sword. To this the young knights replied, that it was 
easy for the chapter to aid the girl's escape in the 
night, and that thus the cause of the sedition would be 
removed. To this humane and wise request replied 
Monseigneur de Censoris, the Pope's legate, that it was 


necessary that strength should remain with the religion 
of the church. And thereupon the poor wench paid 
for all, since it was agreed that no inquiry should be 
made concerning this sedition. 

"Then the chapter had full license to proceed to the 
penance of the girl, to which act and ecclesiastical cere- 
mony the people came from twelve leagues round. So 
that on the day when the Succubus was to be delivered 
up to the secular justice, in order to be publicly burned 
at a stake, not for a gold pound would a lord or even 
an abbot have found a lodging in the town of Tours. 
The night before many camped outside the town in 
tents or slept upon straw. 

"The poor courtesan was half dead; her hair had 
whitened. She was, to tell the truth, nothing but a 
skeleton, scarcely covered with flesh, and her chains 
weighed more than she did. If she had had joy in her 
life, she paid dearly for it at this moment. Those who 
saw her pass say that she wept and shrieked in a way 
that should have earned the pity of her hardest pursuers. 
Then the executioner tied her to a stake to sustain her, 
since she let herself roll at times and fell for want of 
strength. Then she suddenly recovered a vigorous 
handfull, because, this notwithstanding, she was able, 
it is said, to break her cords and escape into the church, 
where, in remembrance of her old vocation, she climbed 
quickly into the galleries above, flying like a bird along 
the little columns and small friezes. -She was about to 
escape on to the roof when a soldier perceived her, 
and thrust his spear in the sole of her foot. In spite 
of her foot half cut through, the poor girl still ran along 
the church without noticing it, going along with her 
bones broken and her blood gushing out, so great fear 
had she of the flames of the stake. At last she was 


taken and bound, thrown into a tumbrel and led to the 
stake, without being afterwards heard to utter a cry. 
The account of her flight in the church assisted in 
making the common people believe that she was the 
devil, and some of them said that she had flown in 
the air. As soon as the executioner of the town threw 
her into the flames, she made two or three horrible 
leaps and fell down'into the bottom of the pile which 
burned day and night. It is impossible, to tell, my 
dear son, the sadnesses, without number and without 
equal, which for about ten years weighed upon me ; 
always was I thinking of this angel burned by wicked 
men, and always I beheld her with her eyes full of love. 
In short, the supernatural gifts of this artless child 
were shining day and night before me. At length I 
had neither the strength nor the courage to look with- 
out trembling upon the grand penitentiary, Jehan de la 
Haye, who died eaten up by lice. Leprosy was his 

"This, my well beloved son, was the cause of a 
thousand ideas, which I have here put into writing to 
be forever the rule of conduct in our family. 

"I quitted the service of the church, and espoused 
your mother, from whom I received infinite blessings, 
and with whom I shared my life, my goods, my soul 
and all. And she agreed with me in the following 
precepts — namely, Firstly, that, to live happily, it is 
necessary to keep far away from church people, to 
honor them much without giving them leave to enter 
your house, any more than to those who by right, just 
or unjust, are supposed to be superior to us. Secondly, 
to take a modest condition, and to keep one's self in it 
without wishing to appear in any way rich. To have 
a care to excite no envy, nor strike any one soever in 

Droll Stories— 21 


any manner, because It is needful to be as strong as 
an oak to crush envious heads. Thirdly, never to 
spend more than one-quarter of one's income, conceal 
one's wealth, hide one's goods and chattels, to under- 
take no office, to go to church like other people, and 
always keep one's thoughts to one's self, seeing that 
they belong to you and not to others, who twist them 
about, turn them after their own fashion, and make 
calumnies therefrom. Fourthly, always to remain in 
the condition of the Tournebouches, who are now and 
forever drapers. To marry your daughters to good 
drapers, to send your sons to be drapers in other towns 
of France, furnished with these wise precepts, and to 
bring them up to the honor of drapery, without leaving 
any dream of ambition in their minds. Thus, by always 
being drapers, they will be always Tournebouches. 

Fifthly, never speak any other language than that 
of drapery, and never to dispute concerning religion or 
government. Also it is necessary to keep the patrimo- 
nial treasure, to have peace and to buy peace, never to 
owe anything, to have corn in the house, and enjoy 
yourselves with the doors and windows shut. 

Let the know-nothings say on. The Tournebouches 
will neither be burned nor hanged, to the advantage of 
king or church, or other people ; and the wise Tourne- 
bouches will have secretly money in their pockets, and 
joy in their houses, hidden from all. 

"Now, my dear son, follow this the counsel of a 
modest and middle-class life. Maintain this in thy 
family as a county charter ; and when you die, let your 
successor maintain it as the sacred Gospel of the 
Tournebouches, until God wills it that there be no 
longer Tournebouches in this world. " 

The author having finished the transcription and 



deciphering of these parchments, translating them from 
their strange language into French, the donor of them 
declared that the Rue Chaude at Tours was so called 
because the sun remained there longer than in all other 
parts. But in spite of this version, people of lofty 
understanding will find, in the warm way of the said 
Succubus, the real origin of the said name. In which 
acquiesces the author. This teaches us not to abuse 
our body, but to use it wisely in view of our salvation. 


At the time when King Charles the Eighth took it into 
his head to decorate the castle of Amboise, there came 
with him certain workmen, who ornamented the galleries 
with splendid works, which, through neglect, have since 
been much spoiled. 

At that time the court was staying in this beautiful 
locality, and the king took great pleasure in watching his 
people work out their ideas. Among these foreign gen- 
tlemen was an Italian, named Angelo Cappara, a most 
worthy young man, and in spite of his age, a better 
sculptor and engraver than any of them. To this Angelo 
the ladies took a great fancy, because he was charming 
as a dream, and as melancholy as a dove left solitary in 
its nest by the death of its mate. And this was the rea- 
son thereof: this sculptor knew the curse of poverty, 
which mars and troubles all the actions of life; he lived 
miserably and made use of his talents only through great 
despair, wishing by any means to win that idle life which 
is the best of all for those whose minds are occupied. 
The Florentine, out of bravado, came to the court gal- 
lantly attired, and from the timidity of youth and misfor- 
tune dared not to ask his money from the king, who. 


seeing him thus dressed, believed him well furnished 
with everything. The courtiers and the ladies used all 
to admire his beautiful works, and also their author; but 
of money he got none. All finding him rich by nature, 
esteemed him well off with his youth, his long black hair, 
and bright eyes, and did not give a thought to lucre, 
while thinking of these things and the rest,. In spite of 
his youthful appearance, Master Angelo was twenty years 
of age, and no fool, had a large heart, a head full of poe- 
try, and more than that, was a man of lofty imaginings. 
But although he had little confidence in himself, like all 
poor and unfortunate people, he was astonished at the 
success of the ignorant. He lamented his fate in having 
a heart so warm that doubtless the ladies avoided him 
as they would a red-hot iron; then he would say to him- 
self how he would worship a beautiful woman, how all 
his life long he would honor her, with what affection serve 
her, how studiously obey her commands, with what sports 
he would dispel the light clouds of her melancholy sad- 
ness on the days when the sky should, be overcast. Fash- 
ioning himself one out of his imagination, he would 
throw himself at her feet, kiss, fondle, caress, bite, and 
clasp her with as much reality as a prisoner scampers 
over the grass when he sees the green fields through the 
bars of his cell. Nevertheless, inflamed by these fan- 
cies, he would hammer away anew at his marble figures, 
caressed with his chisels, smoothed down with his file, 
and fashioned in a manner that would make their use in- 
telligible to the mind of a greenhorn, and stain his ver- 
dure in a single day. The ladies would criticise these 
beauties, and all of them were smitten with the youthful 

Among these high-born ladies there came one day one 
by herself to the young Florentine, asking him why he 


was so shy, and if none of the court ladies could make 
him sociable. Then she graciously invited him to come 
to her house that evening. 

Master Angelo perfumes himself, purchases a velvet 
mantle with a double fringe of satin, borrows from a 
friend a cloak with wide sleeves, a slashed doublet, and 
silken hose, arrives at the house, and ascends the stairs 
with hasty feet, hope beaming from his eyes, knowing 
not what to do with his heart, which leapt and bounded 
like a goat. 

You may be sure the lady was beautiful, and Master 
Cappara was the more aware of it, since in his 
profession he had studied the mouldings of the arms, 
the lines of the body, and the * secret surroundings 
of the sex. Now this lady satisfied the especial rules of 
art; and besides being fair and slender, she had a voice 
to disturb life in its source, to stir the fire of heart, brain 
and everything. 

The sculptor found her seated by the fire in a high 
chair, and the lady immediately commenced to converse 
at her ease, though Angelo could find no other reply 
than " Yes" and "No," could get no other words from 
his throat nor idea in his brain. Both remained until 
the middle of the night, wandering slowly down the 
flowery path of love, and then the good sculptor went 
away radiant with happiness. On the road, he con- 
cluded in his own mind, that if a noble lady kept 
him rather close to her skirts during four hours of the 
night, it would not matter a straw if she kept him there 
the remainder. Then he determined to kill everybody — - 
the husband, the wife, or himself — rather than lose the 
distaff whereon to spin one hour of joy. 

The Florentine chiseled away at his statues, thinking 


of his evening, and thus spoiled many a nose thinking ot 
something else. Noticing this, he left his work and 
went to listen to the sweet words of his lady, with the 
hope of turning them into deeds; but when he was in the 
presence of his sovereign, her feminine majesty made 
itself felt, and poor Cappara, such a lion in the street, 
looked sheepish when gazing at his victim. This not- 
withstanding, towards a very late hour, he was almost in 
the lady's lap and held her tightly clasped. He had 
obtained a kiss, had taken it, much to his delight; for, 
when they give it, the ladies retain the right of refusal, 
but when they let it be taken, the lover may take a 
thousand. The Florentine had stolen a good number, 
and things were going on admirably, when the lady, who 
had been thrifty with her favors, cried, " My husband! " 

And, in fact, my lord had just returned from playing 
tennis, and the sculptor had to leave the place, but not 
without receiving a warm glance from the lady inter- 
rupted in her pleasure. This was all his substance, pit- 
tance, and enjoyment during a whole month, since on 
the brink of his joy always came the said husband. 
And when the sculptor, out of patience, commenced im- 
mediately upon his arrival, the skirmish, in order that vic- 
tory might arrive before the husband, to whom, no doubt, 
these disturbances were not without profit, his fine lady, 
seeing desire written in the eyes of her sculptor, com- 
menced endless quarrels and altercations. She would 
say: " If you are not as I wish you to be, 1 will no longer 
love you." 

The poor Italian saw, when it was t©o late, that this 
was not a noble love, one of those which does not mete 
out joy as a miser his crowns. Because of this, Cappara 
became savage enough to kill any one, and took with him 
trusty companions to whom he gave the task of attacking 


the husband while walking home to bed after his game of 
tennis with the king. He came to this lady at the ac- 
customed hour when the sweet sports of love were in full 
swing, which sports were long, lasting kisses, hair twisted 
and untwisted, hands "bitten with passion, ears as well. 
The Florentine exclaims between two hearty kisses: 

"Sweet one, do you love me more than anything?" 

" Yes," said she, because words never cost anything. 

"Well, then," replied the lover, "be mine in deed as 
in word." 

"But," said she, "my husband will be here directly. " 

" Is that the only reason ? " said he. 


" I have friends who will cross him, and will not let him 
go unless I show a torch at this window. If he complain 
to the king, my friends will say they thought they were 
playing a joke on one of their own set." 

"Ah, my dear," said she, "let me see if every one in 
the house is gone to bed." 

She rose, and held the light to the window. Seeing 
which Cappara blew out the candle, seized his sword, and 
placed himself in front of this woman, whose scorn and 
evil mind he recognized. 

"I will not kill you, madame, " said he, "but 1 will mark 
your face in such a manner that you will never again co- 
quette with young lovers whose lives you waste. You 
have made my life forever dull and wretched; now I will 
make you remember forever my death, which you have 
Caused. You shall never again behold yourself in the 
glass without seeing there my face also. " Then he raised 
his arm, and held the sword ready to cut off a good slice 
of the fresh fair cheek, where still the traces of his kiss 
remained. And the lady exclaimed, "You wretch !" 

" Hold your tongue," said he; "you told me that you 


loved me better than everything. Now you say other- 
wise; each evening have you raised me a little nearer to 
heaven; with one blow you cast me into hell, and you 
think that your beauty can save you from a lover's wrath 

"Ah, my Angelo! I am thine/' said she, marveling at 
this man glaring with rage. 

But he, stepping three paces back, replied, "Ah, 
woman of the court and wicked heart, thou lovest, then, 
thy face better than thy lover. " 

She turned pale, and humbly held up her face, for she 
understood that at this moment her past perfidy wronged 
her present love. With a single blow Angelo slashed her 
face, then left her house, and quitted the country. The 
husband not having been stopped by reason of that light 
which was seen by the Florentines, found his wife minus 
her left cheek. But she spake not a word in spite of her 
agony; she loved her Cappara more than life itself. 
Nevertheless the husband wished to know whence pro- 
ceeded this wound. No one having been there except 
the Florentine, he complained to the king, who had his 
workman hastily pursued, and ordered him to be hanged 
at Blois. On the day of execution a noble lady was seized 
with a desire to save this courageous man, whom she be- 
lieved to be a lover of the right sort. She begged the 
king to give him to her, which he did willingly. But 
Cappara, declaring that he belonged entirely to this lady, 
the memory of whom he could not banish entirely, en- 
tered the church, became a cardinal and a great savant. 
There are authors who say that afterwards he succeeded 
better with his old sweetheart, whose cheek healed; but 
I cannot believe this, because he was a man of heart, 
who had a high opinion of the holy joys of love. 

This teaches us nothing worth knowing, unlewi it be 



that there are unlucky meetings in life, since this tale is 
in every way true. If in other places the author has ov- 
ershot the truth, this one will gain for him the indulgence 
of the conclave of lovers. 


Although this second volume has on its frontispiece 
an inscription which declares it to have been finished in 
a time of snows and chills, it comes in the merry month 
of June, when all is green and gay, because the poor 
muse, whose slave the author is, has been more capri- 
cious than the love of a queen, and mysteriously wished 
to bring forth her fruit in the time of flowers. No one 
can boast himself master of this fay. At times, when 
grave thoughts occupy the mind and grieve the brain, 
comes the jade whispering her merry tales in the author's 
ear, tickling her lips with her feathers, dancing sara- 
bands, and making the house echo with her laughter. 
If by chance the writer, abandoning science for pleasure, 
says to her, "Wait a moment, little one, till I come," 
and runs in great haste to play with the madcap, she 
has disappeared. Take the poker, take a staff, a cudgel, 
a cane, raise them, strike the wench, and rave at her, 
she moans; strap her, she moans; caress her, fondle her, 
she moans; kiss her, say to her, " Here, little one," she 
moans. Now she's cold, now she's going to die; adieu 
to laughter, adieu to merriment, adieu good stories. 
Wear mourning for her, weep and fancy her dead, groan. 
Then she raises her head; she spreads her white wings, 


flies one Knows not whither, turns in the air, capers, 
shows her impish tail, her strong loins and her angelic 
face, gambols in the rays of the sun, shines forth in all 
her beauty, laughs till she cries, casts the tears of her 
eyes into the sea, where the fishermen find them trans- 
muted into pretty pearls which are gathered to adorn the 
foreheads of queens. During these wild pranks of the 
ungovernable beast, you meet fools and friends, who say 
to the poor poet, ' 'Where are your tales? Where are 
your new volumes ? You're a pagan prognosticator. 
Oh yes, you are known, you go to fetes and feasts, and 
do nothing between your meals. Where's your work ?" 
Although 1 am by nature partial to kindness, I should 
like to see one of these people impaled in the Turkish 
fashion, and thus equipped, sent on the Love Chase. 
Here endeth the second volume; may the devil give it a 
lift with his horns, and it will be well received by a 
smiling Christendom. 




Perseverance in Love. 

Concerning a Provost who did not Recognize Things. 

About the Monk Amador, who was a Glorious Abbot of 

Bertha the Penitent. 

How the Maid of Portillon Convinced her Judge. 
In which it is Demonstrated that fortune is always 

Concerning a Poor Man who was called Le Vieux-par- 


The Fair Imperia Married. 


Certain persons have interrogated the author as to why 
there was such a demand for these tales that no year 
passes without his giving an instalment of them, and 
why he has lately taken to write commas mixed up with 
bad syllables, at which the ladies publicly knit their 
brows, and have put to him other questions of a like 
character. The author declares that these treacherous 
words, cast like pebbles in his path, have touched him 
in the very depths of his heart, and he is sufficiently 
cognizant of his duty not to fail to give to his special 
audience in this prologue certain reasons other than 
preceding ones, because it is always necessary to reason 
with children until they are grown up, understand 
things, and hold their tongues; and because he perceives 
many mischievous fellows among this, crowd of noisy 
people, who ignore at pleasure the real object of these 
volumes. In the first place, know that if certain vir- 
tuous ladies — I say virtuous because common and low 
class women do not read these stories, preferring those 
that are never published; on the contrary, other citizens' 
wives and ladies of high respectability and godliness, 
although doubtless disgusted with the subject matter, 
read them piously to satisfy an evil spirit, and thus keep 
themselves virtuous. It is better to be deceived by the 


tale of a book than cuckolded through the story of a gen- 
tleman. But to continue. Now be it known that when 
ladies, of a virtuous nature and talkative turn of mind, 
converse publicly on the subject of these volumes, a 
great number of them confess that they like him very 
much, esteeming him a valliant man, worthy to be a 
monk in the Abbey of Theleme. For as man}' reasons 
as there are stars in the heavens, he does not drop the 
style which he has adopted in these said tales, but keeps 
steadily on his way, because noble France is a woman 
who refuses to yield, crying, twisting about, and saying, 
"No, no; never! " And when the volume is done and 
finished, all smiles, she exclaims, "Oh, my master, are 
there any more to come? " You may take it for granted 
that the author is a merry fellow who troubles himself 
little about the cries, tears, and tricks of the lady you call 
glory, fashion, or public favor, for he knows her to be 
a wanton who would put up with any violence. He 
knows that in France her war-cry is, Mount Joy! Now, 
do you not see that these volumes are French, joyfully 
French, wildly French to the backbone? 

The author has not finished yet. Know, all ye who 
read these tales and love them for the joy they bring you, 
and which goes to your heart, know that the author hav- 
ing, in an evil hour, let his ideas, id est, his inheritance, 
go astray, and being unable to get them together again, 
found himself in a state of mental nudity. Then he cried 
like the woodcutter in the prologue of the book of his 
dear master, Rabelais, in order to make himself heard 
by the gentleman on high, Lord Paramount of all things, 
and obtain from Him fresh ideas. This said Most High, 
still busy with the congress of the time, threw to him 
through Mercury an inkstand with two cups, on which 
was engraved, after the manner of a motto, these three 


letters, Ave. By reason of turning and twisting it about, 
studying it, looking at it, feeling it:, emptying it, knock- 
ing it in an interrogatory manner, smacking it down, 
standing it up straight, standing it on one side, and turn- 
ing it upside down, he read backwards Eva. Who is 
Eva, if not all women in one ? Therefore by the Voice 
Divine was it said to the author. 

Now, muse upon that which is written there. Ave- 
hail, Eva- woman; or ^-woman, Yes, she 
makes and unmakes. Heigh, then, for the inkstand! 
What does woman desire? All the things of love; and 
woman is right. Come to me, then, woman! — come to 
me, Eva ! With this the author began to dip into that 
fertile inkpot, where there was a brain-fluid, concocted 
by virtues from on high in a talismanic fashion. From 
one cup there came serious things, which wrote them- 
selves in brown ink; and from the other trifling things, 
which merely gave a roseate hue to the pages of the 
manuscript. The .poor author has often, from careless- 
ness, mixed the inks now here, now there; but so soon 
as the heavy sentences, difficult to smooth, polish and 
brighten up, of some work suitable to the taste of the day 
are finished, the author, eager to amuse himself, in spite 
of the small amount of merry ink remaining in the left 
cup, steals and bears eagerly therefrom a few penfuls 
with great delight. These said penfuls are, indeed, these 
same Droll Tales, the authority of which is above sus- 
picion, because it flows from a divine source, as is shown 
in this the author's naive confession. 

Certain evil-disposed people will still cry out at this; 
but can you find a man perfectly contented on this lump 
ol mud? Is it not a shame? In this the author has 
wisely comported himself in imitation of a higher power; 
and he proves it all by atqui. Listen: Is it not most 


clearly demonstrated to the learned, that the sovereign 
Lord of worlds has made an infinite number of heavy, 
weighty and serious machines with great wheels, large 
chains, terrible notches and frightfully complicated 
screws and weights like the roasting-jack, but also has 
amused himself with little trifles and grotesque things 
light as zephyrs, and has also made naive and pleasant 
creations at which you laugh directly you see them. Is it 
not so? Then in all eccentric works, in prder to model him- 
self upon the laws of the above-named Lord, it is necessary 
to fashion certain delicate flowers, pleasant insects, fine 
dragons well twisted, imbricated and colored — nay, even 
gilt, although he is often short of gold — and throw them 
at the feet of his snow-clad mountains, piles of rocks, and 
other cloud-capped philosophies, long and terrible works, 
marble columns, real thoughts carved in porphyry. In 
this work are to be met with necessity, virtue, whim, the 
votive offering of. a stout Pantagruelist, all are here. , 
Hold your peace then, drink to the author, and let his 
inkstand with the double cup endow the Gay Science 
with a hundred glorious Droll Tales. 

Stand back then, curs; strike up the music ! Silence, 
bigots; out of the way, dunces ! Step forward my merry 
wa g S j — m y little pages ! give your soft hand to the 
ladies, saying to them, "Read to laugh." Afterwards 
you can tell them some merry jest to make them roar, 
since when they are laughing their lips are apart, and 
they make but a faint resistance to love. 







p^iliii 1 














During the first years of the thirteenth century after 
the coming of our Divine Saviour there happened in 
the city of Paris an adventure, through the deed of a 
man of Tours, of which the town and even the king's 
court were never tired of speaking. As to the clergy, 
you will see by that which is related below the part 
they played in this history, the testimony of which was 
by them preserved. This said man, called the Tour- 
ainian by the common people had for his true name 
that of Anseau. In his latter days the good man had 
returned into his own country and was mayor of St. 
Martin, acccording to the chronicles of the abbey of 
that town ; but at Paris he was a great silversmith. 
But now in his prime, by his great honesty, his labors, 
and so forth, he became a citizen of Paris and subject 
to the king, whose protection he bought, according to 
the custom of that period. He had a house built for 
him free of all quit-rent, close to the church of St. Leu, 
in the Rue St. Denis, where his forge was well known 
by those in want of fine jewels. Although he was a 
Tourainian, and had plenty of spirit and animation, he 
preserved himself as well as a true saint, and had 
passed the days of his green season without once drag- 


ging his good name through the mire. This Tourainian 
came into the town on foot, poor as Job, according to 
the old saying ; and, like all inhabitants of our part of 
the countr}' he had a character of iron, and persevered 
in the path he had chosen as steadily as a determined 
monk. As a workman, he labored from morn to 
night; became a master, he labored still, always 
learning new secrets, seeking new receipts, and, in 
seeking, meeting with inventions of all kinds. Poverty 
engendered hard work, hard work engendered his 
wonderful virtue, and his virtue engendered his great 
wealth. He was an artless man, of simple understand- 
ing, fearing God above all things, then robbers, next 
to that, the nobles, and more than all, disturbance. 
His voice was as gentle as that of a bridegroom before 
marriage. Although the clergy, the military and 
others gave him no reputation for knowledge, he knew 
well his mother's Latin, and spoke it correctly without 
waiting to be asked. Latterly the Parisians had taught 
him to measure his passions by the rule of his revenues, 
not to let them take his leather to make others' shoes, 
never to say what he did, and always to do what he 
said ; to keep his hands to himself, to do the same with 
his purse; to avoid a crowd at the corner of a street, 
and sell his jewels for more than they cost him ; all 
things, the sage observance of which gave him as much 
wisdom as he had need of to do business comfortably 
and pleasantly. And so he did, without troubling any 
one else. And watching this good little man unob- 
served, many said : "By my faith, I should like to be 
this jeweler, even were I obliged to splash myself up 
to the eyes with the mud of Paris during a hundred 
years for it." 

In short, Master Anseau was a thorough man, with 


a lion's face, and under his eyebrows a glance that 
would melt his gold if the fire of his forge had gone 
out, but a limpid water placed in his eyes by the great 
Moderator of all things tempered this great ardor, with- 
out which he would have burnt up everything. With 
such a sample of his cardinal virtues, some persist in 
asking why the good silversmith remained as unmarried 
as an oyster, seeing that these properties are of good 
use in all places. But these opinionated critics, do 
they know what it is to love? Ho! ho! Easy! The 
vocation of a lover is to go, to come, to listen, to 
watch, to talk, to stick in a corner, to make himself 
big, to make himself little, to play music, to drudge, 
to find flowers under the snow, to say paternosters to 
the moon to salute the friends, to say to her at oppor- 
tune moments, "You have good looks, and will yet 
write the epitaph of the human race." To please all 
the relations, to tread on no one's corns, to waste no 
breath, to talk nonsense, to say, "This is good!' or, 
"Really, madame, you are very beautiful so." And to 
vary that in a hundred different ways. In default of which 
the female escapes and leaves you in a fix, without giving 
a single christian reason. In fact, the lover of the 
most gentle maid that God ever created in a good- 
tempered moment, had he talked like a book, played 
like king David, and built for the aforesaid woman the 
Corinthian order of the columns of the devil, if he 
failed in the essential and hidden thing which pleases 
his lady above all others, which often she does not 
know herself and which he has need to know, the lass 
leaves him like a red leper. She is quite right. No 
one can blame her for so doing. When this happens 
some men become ill-tempered, cross, and more wretched 
than you can possibly imagine. Have not many of 


them killed themselves through this petticoat tyranny? 
In this matter the man distinguishes himself from the 
beast, seeing that no animal ever yet lost his senses 
through blighted love, which proves abundantly that 
animals have no souls. The employment of a lover is a 
vocation in which a man of worth is required to spend 
above all things, his time, his life, his blood, his best 
words, besides his heart, his soul, and his brain ; things 
to which the women are cruelly partial, because directly 
their tongues begin to go, they say among themselves 
that if they have not the whole of a man they have 
none of him. 

But our silversmith, always busy at his work, burnish- 
ing gold and melting silver, had no time to warm his 
love or to burnish and make shine his fantasies, nor to 
show off, gad about, or to waste his time in mischief. 
However the good man could not close his eyes to the 
advantages of nature with which were so amply furnished 
the ladies with whom he dilated upon the value of his 
jewels. So it was that, after listening to the gentle 
discourse of the ladies, who tried to wheedle and to fondle 
him to obtain a favor from him, the good Tourainian 
would return to his home, dreamy as a poet, wretched 
as a restless cuckoo, and would say to himself, "I 
must take to myself a wife. She would keep the house 
tidy, fold the clothes for me, sew my buttons on, sing 
merrily about the house and tease me to do everything 
according to her taste." I am going on with my story 
now without further circumlocution. This is what 
happened to the silversmith in the one-and-fortieth 
year of his age. One Sabbath day while walking on 
the left bank of the Seine, he ventured as far as that 
meadow which has since been called the Pre-aux- 
Clercs, and which at that time was in the domain of 


the abbey of Saint Germain, and not in that of the 
University. There, still strolling on, the Tourainian 
found himself in the open fields, and there met a poor 
young girl who, seeing that he was well dressed, 
curtsied to him, saying, "Heaven preserve you, mon- 
seigneur. " In saying this, her voice had such a sympa- 
thetic sweetness that the silversmith felt his soul 
ravished by this feminine melody, and conceived an 
affection for the girl, the more so as, tormented with 
ideas of marriage as he was, everything was favoraMe 
thereto. Nevertheless, as he had passed her by he 
dared not go back, because he was very timid. But 
when he was a bowshot off he bethought him that he 
was a man who for ten years had been a master-silver- 
smith, and was a man of mark, and could look a woman 
in the face if his fancy so led him, the more so as his 
imagination had great power over him. So he turned 
suddenly back, as if he had changed the direction of 
his stroll, and came upon the girl, who held by an old 
cord her poor cow, who was munching grass that had 
grown on the border of a ditch at the side of the road. 

"Ah, my pretty one," said he, "you are not over- 
burdened with the goods of this world that you thus 
work with your hands upon the Lord's day. Are you 
not afraid of being cast into prison?" 

"Monseigneur, " replied the maid, casting down her 
eyes, "I have nothing to fear, because I belong to the 
abbey. The lord abbot has given me leave to exercise 
the cow after vespers. " 

"You love your cow, then, more than the salvation 
of your soul?" 

"Ah, monseigneur, our beast is almost half of our 
poor lives. " 

"I am astonished, my girl, to see you poor and in 


rags, running barefoot upon the fields on the Sabbath, 
when you carry about you more treasures than you 
could dig up in the grounds of the abbey. Do not the 
townspeople torment you with love?" 

"Oh, never, monseigneur. I belong to the abbey," 
replied she, showing the jeweler a collar on the left 
arm like those that the beasts have, and at the same 
time casting such a deplorable glance at our townsman 
that he was stricken quite sad, for by the eyes are com- 
municated contagions of the heart when they are 

"And what does this mean?" he said, wishing to hear 
all about it. 

And he touched the collar, upon which was engraved 
the arms of the abbey very distinctly, but which he did 
not wish to see. 

"Monseigneur, I am the daughter of an homme de 
corps ; thus, whoever unites himself to me by marriage 
will become a bondsman, even if he were a citizen of 
Paris, and would belong body and goods to the abbey. 
If he loved me otherwise, his children would still belong 
to the domain. For this reason I am neglected by 
every one, abandoned like a poor beast of the field. 
But what makes me most unhappy is that I shall be 
coupled at some time with a bondsman. " 

So saying, she pulled her cow by the cord to make 
it follow her. 

"And how old are you?" asked the silversmith. 

"I do not know, monseigneur; but our master the 
abbot, has kept account." 

This great misery touched the heart of the good 
man, who had in his day eaten the bread of sorrow. 
He regulated his pace to the girl's and they went 
together towards the water in painful silence. The 


good man gazed at the fine forehead, the round red 
arms, the queen's waist, the feet dusty but made like 
those of a Virgin Mary ; and the sweet physiognomy of 
this girl, who was the living image of St. Genevieve, the 
patroness of Paris and the maidens who live in the 

"You have a fine cow," said he. 

"Would you like a little milk?" replied she. "It is 
bo warm these early days of May. You are far from 
the town." 

This naive offer, made without the hope of recompense, 
though a byzant would not have paid for the special 
grace of the speech, and the modesty of the gesture with 
which the poor girl turned to him, gained the heart of 
the jeweler, who would have liked to be able to put this 
bondswoman into the skin of a queen, and Paris at her 

"Nay, my child, I thirst not for milk, but for you, 
whom J would have leave to liberate." 

"That cannot be, and I shall die the property of the 
abbey. For years we have lived so, from father to son, 
from mother to daughter. " 

" What !" said the Tourainian; "has no gallant been 
tempted by your bright eyes to buy your liberty, as I 
bought mine from the king ? " 

" It would cost too dear; thus it is those whom at first 
sight I please, go as they came." 

"And you have never thought of gaining another 
country in company with a lover on horseback on a fleet 
courser? " 

"Oh, yes. But, monseigneur, if 1 were caught I 
should be hanged at least; and my gallant, even were he 
a lord, would lose more than one domain over it, besides 
other things. I am not worth so much; besides, the 


abbey has arms longer than my feet are swift. So I live 
on in perfect obedience to God, who has placed me in 
this plight. " 

"What is your father?" 

"He tends the vines in the gardens of the abbey." 

"And your mother ? " 

"She is a washerwoman." 

" And what is your name ? " 

"I have no name, dear sir. My father was baptized 
Etienne, my mother is Etienne, and I am Tiennette, at 
your service." 

"Sweetheart," said the jeweler, "never has woman 
pleased me as you please me; and I believe that your 
heart contains a wealth of goodness. Now, since you 
offered yourself to my eyes at the moment when I was 
firmly deliberating upon taking a companion, I believe 
that I see in you a sign from heaven! and if I am not 
displeasing to you, I beg you to accept me as your friend. " 

Immediately the maid lowered her eyes. These words 
were uttered in such a way, in so grave a tone, so pene- 
trating a manner, that the said Tiennette burst into tears. 

"No, monseigneur, I should be the cause of a thou- 
sand unpleasantnesses, and of your misfortune. For a 
poor bondsmaid, the conversation has gone far enough." 

"Ho!" cried Anseau; "you do not know, my child, 
the man you are dealing with." 

The Tourainian crossed himself, joined his hands, and 

"I make a vow to Monsieur the Saint Eloi, under 
whose invocation are the silversmiths, to fashion two 
images of pure silver, with the best workmanship I am 
able to perform. One shall be a statue of Madame the 
Virgin, to this end, to thank her for the liberty of my 
dear wife; and the other for my said patron, if I am sue- 


cessful in my undertaking to liberate the bondswoman, 
Tiennette here present, and for which I rely upon his 
assistance. Moreover, I swear by my eternal salvation, 
to persevere with courage in this affair, to spend therein 
all I possess, and only to quit it with my life. God has 
heard me," said he. "And you, little one/' he added, 
turning towards the maid. 

"Ha! monseigneur, look! My cow is running about 
the fields," cried she, sobbing at the good man's knees. 
"I will love you all my life; but withdraw }^our vow." 

" Let us look after the cow," said the silversmith, rais- 
ing her, without daring yet to kiss her, although the 
maid was well disposed to it. 

"Yes," said she, "for I shall be beaten." 

And behold now the silversmith, scampering after the 
cursed cow, who gave no heed to their amours; she was 
taken by the horns, and held in the grip of the Tourain- 
ian, who for a trifle could have thrown her in the air, like 
a straw. 

"Adieu, my sweet one! If you go into the town, 
come to my house, over against Saint Leu's Church. I 
am called Master Anseau, and am silversmith to the 
King of France, at the sign of St. Eloi. Make me a 
promise to be in this field the next Lord's day; fail not 
to come, even should it rain halberds." 

"Yes, dear sir. For this would I leap the walls, and, 
in gratitude, would I be yours without mischief, and 
cause you no sorrow, at the price of my everlasting 
future. Awaiting tne happy moment, I will pray God 
for you with all my heart." 

And then she remained standing like a stone saint 
until she could see the good citizen no longer, and he 
went away with lagging steps, turning from time to time 
towards her to gaze upon her. And when he was afar 


off, and out of her sight, she stayed on, until nightfall, 
lost in meditation, knowing not if she had dreamed that 
which had happened to her. Now when the morrow 
was come, went he with great apprehension towards the 
abbey to speak to the lord abbot. On the road, how- 
ever, he suddenly thought of putting himself under the 
protection of one of the king's people, and with this idea 
returned to the court, which was then held in the town. 
Being esteemed by all for his prudence, and loved for his 
little works and kindnesses, the king's chamberlain 
promised him assistance, had a horse saddled for him- 
self and a hack for the silversmith with whom he set out 
for the abbey, asked to see the abbot, who was Mon- 
seigneur Hugon de Sennecterre, aged ninety-three. 

" Monseigneur," said the silversmith to the aboot, 
coming towards him, "you have the charge and office of 
representing here below the goodness of God, who is 
often clement towards us, and has infinite treasures of 
mercy for our sorrows. Now I will remember you each 
evening and each morning in my prayers if you will aid 
me to gain this maid in lawful wedlock, without keeping 
in servitude the children born of this union. And for 
this I will make you a receptacle for the Holy Eucharist, 
so elaborate, so rich with gold, precious stones, and 
winged angels, that no other shall be like it in all Christ- 
endom. It shall remain unique, it shall dazzle your eye- 
sight, and shall be so far the glory of your altar, that the 
people of the town and foreign nobles shall rush to see 
it, so magnificent shall it be." 

"My son," replied the abbot, "have you lost your 
senses ? If you are resolved vi to have this wench for a 
legal wife, your goods and your person belong to the 
chapter of the abbey. " 

"Yes, monseigneur, I am passionately in love with 


this girl, and more touched with her misery and her 
christian heart than even with her perfections; but I 
am," said he with tears in his eyes, " still more aston- 
ished at your harshness and I say it although I know 
that my fate is in your hands. Yes, monseigneur, I 
know the law; and if my goods fall to your domain, if I 
become a bondsman, if I lose my house and my citizen- 
ship, I will still keep that engine, gained by my labors 
and my studies, and which lies there," cried he, striking 
his forehead, "in a place of which no one, save God, 
can be lord but myself. " 

So saying, the silversmith, enraged at the calmness of 
the abbot, who seemed resolved to acquire for the abbey 
the good man's doubloons, brought down his fist upon 
an oaken chair, and shivered it into fragments, for it 
split as under the blow of a mace. 

"Behold, monseigneur, what kind ot servant you will 
have, and of an artificer of things divine you will make a 
mere cart-horse. " 

"My son," replied the abbot, "you have wrongfully 
broken my chair, and lightly judged my mind. This 
wench belongs to the abbey and not to me." 

The silversmith who was not a great scholar remained 
thoughtful. Then came Tiennette, clean as a new pin, 
her hair raised up, dressed in a robe of white wool with 
a blue sash, with tiny shoes and white stockings; in fact, 
so royally beautiful, so noble in her bearing was she, that 
the silversmith was petrified with ecstacy, and the cham- 
berlain confessed he had never seen so perfect a creature. 
Thinking there was too much danger in this sight for the 
poor jeweler, he led him into the town and begged him 
to think no further of the affair, since the abbey was not 
likely to liberate so good a bait for the citizens and 
nobles of the Parisian stream. In fact, the chapter let 


the poor lover know that if he married this girl he must 
resolve to yield up his goods and his house to the abbey, 
consider himself a bondsman, both he and the children 
of the aforesaid marriage. 

The silversmith, to whom every one spoke of the cupid- 
ity of the monks, saw clearly that the abbot would in- 
commutably maintain this order, and his soul was filled 
with despair. At one time he determined to burn down 
the monastery; at another, he proposed to lure the abbot 
into a place where he could torment him until he had 
signed a charter for Tiennette's liberation. But after 
much lamentation he determined to carry off the girl, and 
fly with her into a sure place, and made his preparations 
accordingly; for, once out of the kingdom, his friends or 
the king could better tackle the monks and bring them to 
reason. The good man counted, however, without his 
abbot, for going to the meadows, he found Tiennette no 
more there, and learned that she was confined in the ab- 
bey, and with such rigor, that to get at her it would be 
necessary to lay siege to the monastery. 

The silversmith having complained to the queen that 
the monks had hidden his well beloved from his sight, 
she found the deed detestable and horrible; and in con- 
sequence of her commands to the lord abbot it was per- 
mitted to the Tourainian to go every day into the parlor 
of the abbey, where came Tiennette, but under the con- 
trol of an old monk, and she always came attired in great 
splendor like a lady. 

One day Tiennette discoursed thus with her lover: — 
" My dear lord, I have determined to make you a gift of 
my life, in order to relieve your suffering, and in this 
wise: in informing myself concerning everything I have 
found a means to set aside the rights of the abbey, and 
to give you all the joy you hope for from my fruition. 


"The ecclesiastical judge has ruled that you become 
a bondsman only by accession, and because you were not 
born a bondsman, your servitude will cease with the cause 
that made you a serf. Now, if you love me more than all 
else, lose your goods to purchase our happiness, and es- 
pouse me. Then when you have had your will of me, 
when you have hugged me and embraced me to your 
heart's content, I will voluntarily kill myself, and thus 
you will become free again; at least, you will have the 
king on your side, who, Jt is said, wishes you well. And, 
without doubt, God will pardon me that I cause my own 
death, in order to deliver my lord spouse/' 

" My dear Tiennette," cried the jeweler, "it is finished 
— I will be a bondsman, and thou wilt live to make my 
happiness as long as my days. I place myself in the 
hands of St. Eloi, who will deign in this misery to look 
upon us with pitying eyes, and guard us from all evils. 
Now I shall go hence to a scrivener to have the deeds and 
contracts drawn up. At 1 3ast, thou shalt be gorgeously 
attired, well housed, and served like a queen during my 
lifetime, since the lord abbot leaves me the earnings of 
my profession." 

To be brief, when the hour of slavery and love was at 
hand, Anseau moulded all his gold into a royal crown, in 
which he fixed all his pearls and diamonds, and went 
secretly to the queen, and gave it to her, saying, "Mad- 
ame, I know not how to dispose of my fortune, which 
you here behold. To-morrow everything that is found 
in my house will be the property of the cursed monks, 
who have had no pity on me. Then deign, madame, to 
accept this. It is a slight return for the joy which, 
through you, I have experienced in seeing her I love; 
for no sum of money is worth one of her glances." 

"Well said, good man," cried the king. "The abbsy 


will one day need my aid, and I will not lose the remem- 
brance of this. " 

There was a vast crowd at the abbey for the nuptials 
of Tiennette, to whom the queen presented the bridal 
dress, and to whom the king granted a license to wear 
every day golden rings in her ears. When the charm- 
ing pair came from the abbey to the house of Anseau 
(now the serf) over against St. Leu, there were torches 
at the window to see them pass, and a double line in 
the streets, as though it were a royal entry. The poor 
husband had made himself a collar of gold, which he 
wore on his left arm in token of his belonging to the 
abbey of St. Germain. But in. spite of his servitude the 
people cried out, "Noell Noel!" as to a new crowned 
king. Then the good Tourainian found green boughs 
and violets in crowns in his honor; and the principal 
inhabitants of the quarter were all there, who, as a great 
honor, played music to him, and cried to him, "You 
will always be a noble man in ? pite of the abbey. " They 
lived together a whole month, happy as the doves, who 
in springtime build their nests twig by twig. This 
month of flowers passed, there came one day, with great 
pomp, the good old Abbot Hugon, their lord and master, 
who entered the house, which then belonged not to the 
jeweler, but to the chapter, and said to the two spouses: 
"My children, you are released, free and quit of every- 
thing; and I should tell you that from the first I was 
much struck with the love which united you one to the 
other. The rights of the abbey once recognized, I was 
determined to restore you to perfect enjoyment, after 
having proved your loyalty by the test of God." Hav- 
ing thus said, he gave them each a little tap with his 
hand on the cheek. And they fell about his knees 
weeping tears of joy for such good reasons. 


Then, with great honor, Master Anseau held the reins 
of his mule, as far as the gate of Bussy. During the 
journey the jeweler, who had taken a bag of silver, threw 
the pieces to the poor and suffering, crying, " Largesse, 
largesse to God! God save and guard the abbot! Long 
live the good Lord Hugon! " You can imagine that the 
abbot was reproached by the chapter for this clemency 
in opening the door for such good prey to escape. " If 
I have judged that silversmith aright," said the abbot, 
" he will not forget what he owes us." 

And he did not for one day a monk came to announce 
that the silversmith supplicated his benefactor to receive 
him. Soon he entered the room where the abbot was, 
and spread out before him two marvelous shrines, which 
since that time no workman has surpassed, in any por- 
tion of the christian world, and which were named the 
"Vow of a Steadfast Love." These two treasures are 
placed on the principal altar of the church, and are 
esteemed as an inestimable work, for the silversmith had 
spent thereon all his Wealth. Nevertheless, this work, 
far from emptying his purse, filled it full to overflow- 
ing, because so rapidly increased his fame and his 
fortune that he was able to buy a patent of nobility 
and lands, and he founded the house of Anseau, which 
has since been held in great honor in fair Touraine. 

This teaches us to have always recourse to God and 
the saints in all the undertakings of life, to be steadfast in 
all good things, and, above all, that a great love tri- 
umphs over everything. 

Droll Stories— 33 


In the good town of Bourges there lived a provost, 
entrusted by the king with the maintenance of order, 
and called the provost-royal. From which came the 
office of provost of the hotel, in which behaved rather 
harshly my Lord Tristan of Mere, of whom these tales 
oft make mention, although he was by no means a 
merry fellow. I give this information to the friends 
who pilfer from old manuscripts to manufacture new 
ones, and I show thereby how learned these Tales 
really are, without appearing to be so. Very well, 
then, this provost was named Picot or Petit, a name 
which was eventually adopted by the family, which 
has multiplied exceedingly, for everywhere you find 
"des Petits," and so he will be called Petit in this 
narrative. This said provost was in reality a little bit 
of a man, whose mother had given him so strange a 
hide, that when he wanted to laugh he used to stretch 
his cheeks and this smile at court was called the 
provost's smile. But with his false laugh, Petit was 
the more suited to his occupation of watching and 
catching evil doers. For all malice, he was a bit of a 
cuckold ; for all wisdom he obeyed God, when it was 


convenient, and for all change in his joy, he looked for 
a man to hang, and when he was asked to find one he 
never failed to meet him. Can you find in all Christ- 
endom a more virtuous provost? No! All provosts 
hang too little or to much, while this one just hanged 
as much as was necessary to be a provost. This good 
fellow had for his wife in legitimate marriage, the 
prettiest little woman in Bourges. So it was that often, 
while on his road to the execution, he. would ask God 
the same question as several others in the town did — 
namely, why he, Petit, he, the sheriff, he, the provost 
royal, had to himself a wife so exquisitely shaped, so 
dowered with charms, that a donkey seeing her pass 
by would bray with delight. To this God vouchsafed 
no reply, and doubtless had His reasons. But the 
slanderous tongues of the town replied for Him, that 
the young lady was by no means a maiden when she 
became the wife of Petit. Others said that she did not 
keep her affections solely for him. Every one had 
taunts ready which would have made a nice little collec- 
tion had any one gathered them together. From them, 
however, it is necessary to take nearly four-fourths, 
seeing that Petit's wife was a virtuous woman, who 
simply had a lover for joy and a husband for duty. 
Now, then, put the true character of this virtuous 
woman on the tablets of your memory, go your, ways, 
and let me go mine. The good Madame Petit was a 
good housewife, always sitting in her chair or sleeping 
in her bed, always ready, waiting for her lover when 
her husband went out, receiving the husband when the 
lover had gone. This dear woman never thought of 
dressing herself only to annoy and make other wives 
jealous. Now you know the provost and his good 
wife. The provost's lieutenant in duties matrimonial, 


was a noble lord, a landowner, who disliked the king 

You must bear this in mind, because it is one of the 
principal points of the story. The constable, who was a 
rough Scotch gentleman, had seen by chance Petit's 
wife, and wished to have a little conversation with her. 
Thinking herself quite learned enough, Madame Petit, 
who was, as has been stated, a virtuous, wise, and 
honest wife, refused to listen to the said constable. 
After certain arguments, reasonings, tricks, and mes- 
sages, which were of no avail, he swore that he would 
rip up the gallant although he was a man of mark. But 
he swore nothing about the lady. This denotes a good 
Frenchman, for in such a dilemma there are certain 
offended persons who would upset the whole business 
of three persons by killing four. The constable 
wagered his big, black coquedouille before the king and 
the lady of Sorel, who were playing cards before supper ; 
and his majesty was well pleased, because he would 
be relieved of this noble, who displeased him, and that 
without costing him a "thank you. " 

"And how will you manage the affair?" said Madame 
de Sorel to him, with a smile. 

"Oh! oh!" replied the constable. "You may be 
sure, madame, I do not wish to lose my big black 
coquedouille. " 

"Well," continued the constable, who was Sieur de 
Richmond, "I will have the husband ordered to go into 
the country for a day and a night, to arrest certain 
peasants suspected of plotting treacherously with the 
English. Thereupon my two pigeons, believing their 
man absent, will be as merry as soldiers off duty ; and, 
if a certain thing takes place, I will let loose the pro- 
vost, sending him, in the king's name, to search the 


house where the couple will be, in order that he may 
slay our friend, who pretends to have this good corde- 
lier to himself." 

"What does this mean?" said the Lady of Beaute. 

"Equivoque," answered the king, smiling. 

"Come to supper," said Madame Agnes. "You are 
bad men, who with one word insult both the citizens' 
wives and a holy order." 

Now, for a long time, Madame Petit had longed to 
have a night of liberty, during which she might visit 
the house of the said noble, where she could make as 
much noise as she liked without waking the neighbors. 
On the morrow, therefore, the lady's maid went off 
about midday to the young lord's house, and told the 
lover that he might make his preparations for pleasure, 
and for supper, for that he might rely upon the provost's 
better-half being with him in the evening. 

"Good!" said he. "Tell your lady I will not stint 
her in anything she desires. " 

The pages of the cunning constable, seeing the gallant 
prepare for his gallantries, went and informed their 
master that everything had happened as he wished, 
Hearing this, the good constable rubbed his hands, 
thinking how nicely the provost would catch the pair. 
He instantly sent word to him, that by the king's 
express commands he was to return to town, in order 
that he might seize at the lord's house an English 
nobleman, with whom he was vehementy suspected to 
be arranging a plot of diabolical darkness. But before 
he put this order into execution, he was to come to 
the king's hotel, in order that he might understand the 
courtesy to be exercised in this case. The provost, 
joyous at the chance of speaking to the king, used such 
diligence that he was in town just at the time when the 


two lovers were singing the first note of their evening 
hymn. The lord of cuckoldom and its surrounding 
lands, managed things so well that madame was only 
conversing with her lord lover at the time that her lord 
spouse was talking to the constable and king ; at which 
he was pleased, and so was his wife — a case of con- 
cord rare in matrimony. 

"I was saying to monseigneur, " said the constable to 
the provost, as he entered the king's apartments, "that 
every man in the kingdom has a right to kill his wife 
and her lover if he find them in an act of infidelity. 
But his majesty, who is clement, argues that he has 
only a right to kill the man and not the woman. Now 
what would you do, Mr. Provost, if by chance you 
found a gentleman taking a stroll in that fair meadow 
of which laws, human and divine, enjoin you alone 
to cultivate the verdure?" 

"I would kill everything," said the provost; "I would 
scrunch the five thousand devils of nature, flower and 
seed, and send them flying, the pips and the apples, 
the grass and the meadow, tx2e woman and the man." 

"You would be in the wrong, " said the king. "That 
is contrary to the laws of the church and of the state." 

"Sire, I admire your profound wisdom, and I 
clearly perceive you to be the centre of all justice." 

"We can then only kill the knight — Anien," said the 
constable, "kill the horseman. Now go quickly to the 
house of the suspected lord, but without letting yourself 
be bamboozled, do not forget what is due to his posi- 
tion. " 

The provost, believing he would certainly be Chan- 
cellor of France if he properly acquitted himself of his 
task, went from the castle into the town, took his men, 
arrived at the nobleman's residence, arranged his 


people outside, placed guards at all the doors, climbs 
the stairs, asks the servants in which room their 
master is, puts them under arrest, goes up alone, and 
knocks at the door of the room where the two lovers 
are tilting in love's tournament, and says to them : 

"Open, in the name of our lord, the king!" 

The lady recognized her husband's voice, and could 
not repress a smile, thinking that she had not waited 
for the king's order to do what she had done. But 
after laughter came terror. Her lover took his cloak, 
threw it over him, and came to the door. There, not 
knowing that his life was in peril, he declared that he 
belonged to the court and to the king's household. 

"Bah !" said the provost. "I have strict orders from 
the king ; and under pain of being treated as a rebel, 
you are instantly bound to receive me. " 

Then the lord went out to him, still holding the 

"What do you want here?" 

"An enemy of our lord, the king, whom we command 
you to deliver into our hands, otherwise you must 
follow me with him to the castle." 

"This," thought the lover, "is a piece of treachery on 
the part of the constable, whose propositions my dear 
mistress treated with scorn." Then, turning to the 
provost, he went double or quits on the risk, reasoning 
thus with the cuckold : 

"My friend, you know that I consider you to be as 
gallant a man as it is possible for a provost to be in the 
discharge of his duty. Now, can I have confidence in 
you? I have here with me the fairest lady of the court. 
As for Englishmen, I have not sufficient of one to make 
the breakfast of the constable, M. de Richmond, who sends 
you here ; this is the result of a bet made between myself 


and the constable, who shares it with the king. Both 
have wagered that they know who is the lady of my 
heart; and I have wagered to the contrary. No one 
more than myself hates the English, who took my estates 
in Picardy. Is it not a knavish trick to put justice in 
motion against me? Ho! ho! my lord constable, a 
chamberlain is worth two of you, and I will beat you 
yet. My dear Petit, I give you permission to search 
by night and by day, every nook and cranny of my 
house. But come in here alone, search my room and 
do what you like. Only allow me to cover with a cloth 
or handkerchief this fair lady, who is at present in the 
costume of an archangel, in order that you may not 
know to whom she belongs. " 

"Willingly," said the provost. "But I am an old 
bird not easily caught with chaff, and would like to be 
sure that it is really a lady of the court, and not an 
Englishman, for these English have flesh as white and 
soft as women, and I know it well, because I have 
hanged so many of them." 

"Well, then," said the lord, "seeing of what crime I 
am suspected, from which I am bound to free myself, 
I will go and ask my lady-love to consent for a moment 
to abandon her modesty. She is too fond of me to 
refuse to save me from reproach. I will beg her show 
you a physiognomy which will in no way compromise 
her, and will be sufficient to enable you to recognize a 
noble woman. " 

"All right," said the provost. 

The lady, having heard every word, had folded up 
all her clothes, and put them under the bolster, pre- 
pared to appear before her husband. 

"Come in, my friend," said the lord. 

The provost looked up the chimney, opened the 


cupboard, the clothes-chest, felt under the bed, in the 
sheets, and everywhere. Then began to study what 
was on the bed. 

"My lord," said he, regarding his legitimate appur- 
tenances, "I have seen young English lads with backs 
like that. " 

He was quite convinced that no English person could 
be thus fashioned without being a charming English 

"Yes, my lord, " he whispered in the ear of his lieu- 
tenant, "this is certainly a lady of the court, because 
the townswomen are neither so well formed nor so 
charming. " 

Then the house being thoroughly searched, and no 
Englishman found, the provost returned, as the consta- 
ble had told him, to the king's residence. 

"Is he slain?:" said the constable. 


"He who grafted horns upon your forehead." 

"I only saw a lady on his couch who seemed to be 
greatly enjoying herself." 

"You, with your own eyes saw this woman, cursed 
cuckold, and you did not kill your rival?" 

"It was not a common woman, but a lady of the 
court. " 

"You saw her?" 

"And verified her in both cases." 

"You do not, then, know the physiognomies of your 
own wife, you old fool without memory ! You deserve 
to be hanged. " 

"I hold those features of my wife in too great respect 
to gaze upon them. Besides, she is so modest that 
she would die rather than expose an atom of her 
body. " 


"True, " said the king; < 'she was not made to be shown. " 

"Old coquedouille! that was your wife," said the con- 

"My lord constable, she is asleep, poor girl!" 

"Quick, quick, then ! To horse ! Let us be off, and 
if she be in your house I'll forgive you." 

Then the constable, followed by the provost, went to 
the latter's house in less time than it would have taken 
a beggar to empty the poor-box. "Hullo! there, hi!" 
Hearing the noise made by the men, which threatened 
to bring the walls about their ears, the maid-servant 
opened the door yawning and stretching her arms. 
The constable and the provost rushed into the room, 
where, with great difficulty, they succeeded in waking 
the lady, who pretended to be terrified, and was so 
soundly asleep that her eyes were full of gum. At this 
the provost was in great glee, saying to the constable 
that some one had certainly deceived him, that his wife 
was a virtuous woman, and was more astonished than 
any of them at these proceedings. The constable 
turned on his heel and departed. The good provost 
began directly to undress to get to bed early. When 
he was unharnessing himself, and was knocking off his 
nether garments, madame, still astonished, said to him : 

"Oh, my dear husband, what is the meaning of all 
this uproar — this constable and his pages, and why did 
he come to see if I was asleep? Is it to be henceforth 
part of a constable's duty to look after our affairs?" 

"I do not know," said the provost, interrupting her, 
to tell her what had happened to him. 

Upon setting forth to her his night's adventure, she 
replied : 

"Ah, you won't love me any more after seeing how 
beautiful court ladies are!" 


"Nonsense, my child ! They are great ladies. I don't 
mind telling you in confidence ; they are great ladies in 
every respect." 

"Well," said she, "am I nicer?" 
"Ah!" said he, "in a great measure. Yes!" 
"They have, then, great happiness," said she, sigh- 
ing, "when I have so much with so little beauty. " 

Thereupon the provost tried a better argument, and 
argued so well that she finished by allowing herself to 
be convinced that Heaven has ordained that great hap- 
piness may be obtained from small things. 

This shows us that nothing here below can prevail 
against the church of cuckolds. 



One day it was drizzling with rain — the queen was in 
her chamber at the castle of Amboise, against the win- 
dow-curtains. There, seated in her chair, she was work- 
ing at a piece of tapestry to amuse herself, but was using 
her needle heedlessly, watching the rain fall into the 
Loire, and was lost in thought, where her ladies were 
following her example. The king was arguing with those 
of his court who had accompanied him from the chapel 
— for it was a question of returning to dominical vespers. 
His arguments finished, he looked at the queen, saw that 
she was melancholy, saw that the ladies were melan- 
choly also, and noted the fact that they were all ac- 
quainted with the mysteries of matrimony. 

" Did I not see the Abbot of Turpenay here just now?" 
said he. 

Hearing these words there advanced towards the king 
the monk who, by his constant petitions, rendered him- 
self so obnoxious to Louis the Eleventh, that that mon- 
arch seriously commanded his provost-royal to remove 
him from his sight; and it has been related in the first 



volume of these Tales how the monk was saved through 
the mistake of Sieur Tristan. The monk was a great 
favorite with the ladies, who crammed hi in with wine, 
confectioneries, and dainty dishes at the dinners, suppers, 
and merry-makings, to which they invited him, because 
every host likes those cheerful guests of God with nim- 
ble jaws, who say as many words as they put away tit- 
bits. This abbot was a pernicious fellow, who would 
relate to the ladies many a merry tale, at which they were 
only offended when they had heard them; since, to judge 
them, things must be heard. 

"My reverend f ather, " said the king, "behold the twi- 
light hour, in which ears feminine may be regaled with 
certain pleasant stories, for the ladies can laugh without 
blushing or blush without laughing, as it suits them best. 
Give us a good story — a regular monk's story. I shall 
listen to it, i' faith, with pleasure, because I want to be 
amused, and so do the ladies." 

"We only submit to this in order to please your lord- 
ship," said the queen; "because our good friend the 
abbot, goes a little too far." 

The lords present made such gallant remonstrances 
and supplications to the queen and her ladies, that she 
gave the monk a gentle smile and said: 

" As you will, my father; but you must answer to God 
for our sins." 

"Willingly, madame; if it be your good pleasure to 
take mine, you will be a gainer." 

Everyone laughed, and so did the queen. The king 
went and sat by his dear wife, well beloved by him as 
every one knows. The courtiers received permission to 
be seated — the old courtiers, of course, understood; for 
the young ones stood, by the ladies permission, beside 
their chairs, to laugh at the same time as they did. Then 


the Abbot of Turpenay gracefully delivered himself of 
the following tale: 

About a hundred years ago at the least, there occurred 
great quarrels in Christendom because there were two 
popes at Rome, each one pretending to be legitimately 
elected, which caused great annoyance to the monaster- 
ies, abbeys, and bishoprics, since, in order to be recog- 
nized by as many as possible, each of the two popes 
granted titles and rights to his adherents, the which made 
double owners everywhere, Under these circumstances 
the monasteries and abbeys that were at war with their 
neighbors would not recognize both the popes, and 
found themselves much embarrassed by the others, who 
always gave the verdict to the enemies of the chapter. 
Now, at this time, the most illustrious abbey of Turpe- 
nay, of which I am at present the unworthy ruler, had a 
heavy trial on, concerning the settlement of certain rights 
with the redoubtable Sire de Cand6, an idolatrous infidel 
and a most wicked lord. This devil, sent upon earth in 
the shape of a nobleman, was, to tell the truth, a good 
soldier and a friend of the Sieur Bureau de la Riviere, 
who was a person to whom the king was exceedingly 
partial — King Charles the Fifth, of glorious memory. 
Beneath the shelter of the favor of this Sieur de la 
Riviere, the lord of Cande* did exactly as he pleased in 
the valley of the Indre, where he used to be master of 
everything from Montbazon to Usse\ You may be sure 
that his neighbors were terribly afraid of him and to 
save their skulls let him have his way. In the whole 
valley the noble abbey alone showed fight to this demon, 
for it has always been a doctrine of the church to take 
into her lap the weak and suffering, and use every effort 
to protect the oppressed. For this reason this rough war- 
rior hated monks exceedingly. He was well pleased at 


the ecclesiastical schism, and waited the decision of our 
abbey, concerning which pope they should choose to pil- 
lage them, being quite ready to recognize the one to 
wliom the Abbot of Turpenay should refuse his obedi- 
ence. Since his return to his castle, it was his custom 
to torment and annoy the priests whom he encountered 
upon his domains in such a manner that a poor monk, 
surprised by him on his private road, which was by the 
water-side, perceived no other method of safety than to 
throw himself into the river, where, by a special miracle 
of the Almighty, whom the good man fervently invoked, 
Jiis gown floated him on the Indre, and he made his way 
comfortably to the other side. The abbot, to whom at 
that time the care of our glorious abbey was committed, 
led a most holy life, and prayed to God with devotion; 
but he would have saved his own soul ten times, of such 
good quality was his religion, before finding a chance to 
save the abbey itself from the clutches of this wretch. 
Although he was very perplexed, and saw the evil hour 
at hand, he relied upon God for succor, saying that He 
would never allow the property of His Church to be 
touched, and that he who had raised up the Princess 
Judith for the Hebrews, and Queen Lucretia for the 
Romans, would keep His most illustrious abbey of Tur- 
penay, and indulged in other equally sapient remarks. 
But his monks, who were unbelievers, reproached him 
with his happy-go-lucky way of looking at things, and 
declared that, to bring the chariot of Providence to the 
rescue in time, all the oxen in the province would have 
to be yoked to it. At this desperate juncture there rose 
up a monk named Amador. He was strong in the stom- 
ach, had crooked legs, arms hairy as those of a saddler, 
a face as red as the phiz of a drunkard, glistening eyes, 
a tangled beard, was hairy faced, and so puffed out with 


fat and meat that you would have fancied him in an in- 
teresting condition. Amador, knowing that it was a 
question of the ruin of the abbey, in which he was as 
snug as a bug in a rug, put up his bristles, took notice of 
this and of that, went into each of the cells, listened in 
the refectory, shivered in his shoes, and declared that he 
would attempt to save the abbey. He received from the 
abbot permission to postpone the case, and was promised 
by the whole chapter the vacant office of sub-prior if he 
succeeded in putting an end to the litigation. Then he 
set off across the country, heedless of the cruelty and ill- 
treatment of the Sieur de Cande, saying that he had that 
within his mind which would subdue them. He selected 
to go to the chateau, a day when it rained hard enough 
to fill the tubs of all the housewives, and arrived without 
meeting a soul, in sight of Cand6, and looking like a 
drowned dog, stepped bravely into the courtyard, and 
took shelter under a sty-roof to wait until the fury of the 
elements had calmed down, and placed himself boldly in 
front of the room where the owner of the chateau should 
be. A servant perceiving him while laying the supper, 
took pity on him, and told him to make himself scarce, 
otherwise his master would give him a horsewhipping. 

"Ah!" said Amador, "I am on my way to Tours, 
sent thither by my lord abbot. If the Lord of Cande 
were not so bitter against the poor servants of God, I 
should not be kept during such a deluge in the court- 
yard, but in the house. I hope that he will find mercy 
in his hour of need." 

The servant reported these words to his master, who 
at first wished to have the monk thrown into the big 
trough of the castle among the other filth. But the 
Lady of Cande, who had great authority over her 
spouse, reprimanded him saying that it was possible 


this monk was a christian ; and that, besides, it was 
necessary to treat him well to find out to what decision 
the brethren of Turpenay had come with regard to 
schism business. Amador's face was so piteous that 
the lord, saddened by the weather, conceived the idea 
of enjoying a joke at his expense, tormenting him, 
playing tricks on him, and of giving him a lively recol- 
lection of his reception at the chateau. Then this 
gentleman sent his wife's maid, who was called Per- 
rotte, to put an end to his ill-will towards the luckless 
Amador. As soon as the plot had been arranged 
between them, the wench, in order to please her master, 
went to the monk who was standing under a pigsty, 
and said : 

"Holy father, the master of this house is ashamed to 
see a servant of God out in the rain when there is 
room for him indoors, a good fire in the chimney, and 
a table spread. I invite you in his name and that of 
the lady of the house to step in. " 

"I thank the lady and the lord, not for their hospi- 
tality, which is a christian thing, but for having sent 
as an ambassador to me, a poor sinner, an angel of 
such delicate beauty that I fancy I see the Virgin over 
our altar. " 

Saying which, Amador raised his nose in the air, 
and saluted the pretty maid-servant, who thought him 
neither so ugly nor so foul, nor so bestial ; when follow- 
ing Perrotte up the steps, Amador received on the 
nose, cheeks, and other portions of his face a slash of 
the whip which made him see all the lights of the 
Magnificat, so well was the dose administered by the 
Sieur de Cand£, who, was busy chastening his grey- 
hounds and pretended not to see the monk. He requested 
Amador to pardon him this accident, and ran after the 

Droll Stories— 24 


dogs who had caused the mischief to his guest. Of the 
people who were then in the room not one made room 
for the man of God, who remained standing until the 
moment when the Sire de Cand6, his wife, and his aged 
sister, Mademoiselle de Cande, came and sat in their 
chairs at the head of the table. The Sire de Cand6, 
paying no attention to the monk, let him sit at the 
extreme end of the table, in a corner, where two mis- 
chievous lads had orders to squeeze and elbow him. 
Indeed these fellows worried his feet, his body, and 
his arms like real torturers, poured white wine into his 
goblet for water, in order, to fuddle him, and the 
better to amuse themselves with him ; but they made 
him drink seven large jugfuls without making him 
belch, sweat or snort, which horrified them exceedingly, 
especially as his eye remained clear as a chrystal. All 
this agony he endured with meekness, because the 
spirit of God was in him, and also the hope of finish- 
ing the litigation by holding out in the castle. So much 
noise was being made that the Lady of Cande per- 
ceived Amador endeavoring to get something out of the 
big beef bones that had been put upon his pewter 
platter. At this moment the poor monk, who had 
administered a dexterous blow to a big ugly bone, took 
it in his hairy hands, snapped it in two, sucked the warm 
marrow out of it, and found it good. "Truly," said she 
to herself, "God has put great strength into this monk !" 
He perceiving that the old lady and her charge, the lady 
and the servants had seen him manoevering the bone, 
pushed back his sleeve, placed the nuts near his wrist 
on the bifurcation of the veins, and crushed them one 
by one pressing them with the palm of his hand so 
vigorously that they appeared like ripe medlars. He 
also crushed them between his teeth, white as the teeth 


of a dog, husk, shell, fruit, and all, of which he made 
in a second, a mash which he swallowed like honey. 
He crushed them between two fingers, which he used 
like scissors to cut them in two without a moment's 

You may be sure that the men believed the devil to 
be in the monk ; and had it not been for his wife and 
the darkness of the night, the Sieur de Cand6, having 
the fear of God before his eyes, would have kicked him 
out of the house. Therefore, as soon as everyone had 
wiped his mouth, my lord took care to imprison this 
devil and had him conducted to a wretched little closet 
where Perrotte had arranged her machine, in order to 
annoy him during the night. Everyone went to bed 
in expectation of the nocturnal revels of the monk, 
certain that they would not be disappointed, since he 
had been lodged under the tiles at the top of a little 
tower, the guard of the door of which was committed 
to dogs who howled for a bit of him. In order to 
ascertain in what language the conversation with dogs 
would be carried on, the sire came to stay with his 
dear Perrotte, who slept in the next room. As soon as 
he found himself thus treated, Amador drew from 
his bag a knife, and dexterously extricated himself. 
Then he began to listen in order to find out the ways 
of the place, and heard the master of the house laugh- 
ing with his maid servant. Suspecting their manoeu- 
vres, he waited till the moment when the lady of the 
house should be alone in bed, and made his way into 
her room with bare feet, in order that his sandals should 
not be in his secrets. He appeared to her by the light 
of the lamp in the manner in which monks generally 
appear during the night, and made the following little 


"Know, madame, that I am sent by Jesus and the 
Virgin Mary to warn you to put an end to the improper 
perversities which are taking place — to the injury of 
your virtue, which is treacherously deprived of your 
husband's best attention, which he lavishes upon your 
maid. According to this, your servant is the lady and 
you are the servant. Are not all the attentions 
bestowed upon her due to you? You will find them 
all amassed in our Holy Church, which is the consola- 
tion of the affected. Behold in me the messenger, 
ready to pay these debts if you do not renounce them. " 

"If you speak truly, my father, I will submit to your 
guidance," said she, springing lightly out of the bed. 
"You are for sure a messenger of God, because you have 
seen in a single day that which I have not noticed here 
for a long time." 

Then she went, accompanied by Amador, whose holy 
robe she did not fail to run her hand over, and was so 
struck when she found it real, that she hoped to find 
her husband guilty ; and indeed she heard him talking 
about the monk in her servant's room. Perceiving 
this felony, she went into a furious rage, and wished 
to kick up the devil's delight before handing the girl 
over to justice. 

But first the monk avenged her most monastically 
with an ample vengeance, that she indulged in as a 
drunkard who puts his lips to the bunghole of a 
barrel ; for when a lady avenges herself, she should 
get drunk with a vengeance, or not taste it at all. 
They were — according to President Lizet, when he 
was in a merry mood — a couple taken in flagrant 
delectation, and looked dumfounded, sheepish and 
foolish. The sight that met her eyes displeased 
the lady beyond the power of words to express, 


as it appeared by her discourse, of which the rough- 
ness was similar to that of the water of her big 
pond when the sluice-gates were opened. It was a 
sermon in three heads, accompanied with music of a 
high gamut, varied in the tones, with many sharps 
among the keys. 

"Out upon virtue ! my lord ; I've had my share of 
it. You have shown me that religion in conjugal faith 
is an abuse." 

"My dear," said the bewildered lord, "don't 
shout so. " 

"But," replied the lady, "I will shout, and shout tc 
make myself heard, heard by the archbishop, heard by 
the legate, by the king, by my brothers, who will 
avenge this infamy for me." 

"Do not dishonor your husband!" 

"This is a dishonor, then ! You are right ; but, my 
lord, it is not brought about by you, but by this hussy, 
whom I will have sewn up in a sack, and thrown into 
the Indre ; thus your dishonor will be washed away. 
"Hi, there!" she called out. 

"Silence, madame!" said the sire, as shamefaced 
as a blind man's dog ; because this great warrior was 
like a child in the hands of his wife, a state of affairs 
to which soldiers are accustomed, because in them lies 
the strength and is found all the dull carnality of 
matter ; while, on the contrary, in woman is a subtle 
spirit and a scintillation of perfumed flame that lights 
up paradise and dazzles the male. This is the reason 
that certain women govern their husbands, because 
mind is the master of matter. 

(At this the ladies began to laugh, as did also the 
king. ) 

"I will not be silent" said the Lady of Cande* (said 


the abbot, continuing his tale) ; "I have been too 
grossly outraged. This, then, is the reward of the 
wealth I brought you, and of my virtuous conduct ! 
Am I so cold as to freeze the sun? Am I a holy 
shrine? Was there need of a papal brief to kiss me? 
Am I not to your taste? Do charming wenches know 
more than ladies? Ha! perhaps it is so, since you 
have worked in the field without sowing. Teach me 
this wickedness; I will practice it with those whom I 
take into my service, for it is settled that I am free. 
That is as we should be. Your society was wearisome, 
and the little pleasure I derived from it cost me too 
dear. Thank God ! I am quit of you and your whims, 
because I intend to retire to a monastery. " . 

"And I shall be more comfortable in this monastery, 
with my daughter, than in this place of abominable 
wickedness. " 

"What is the matter?' said Amador, appearing sud- 
denly upon the scene. 

"The matter is, my father," replied she, "that my 
wrongs cry aloud for vengeance. To begin with, I 
shall have this trollop thrown into the river, sewn up 
in a sack, for having diverted the ways of the house of 
Cande from its proper channel. I will be saving the 
hangman a job. For the rest I will — " 

"Abandon your anger, my daughter," said the monk. 
"It is commanded us by the church to forgive those who 
trespass against us, if we would find favor in the sight of 
Heaven, because you pardon those who also pardon 
others. Thus it is a source of happiness to pardon. 
Pardon Monseigneur de Cande, who will bless you for 
your gracious clemency, and will henceforward love you 
much. This forgiveness will restore to you the flowers of 
youth ; and believe, my dear sweet young lady, that 


forgiveness is in certain cases the best means of ven- 
geance. Pardon your maid-servant, who will pray 
Heaven for you. Thus God, supplicated by all, will 
have you in his keeping, and will bless you with male 
lineage for his pardon. " 

Thus saying, the monk took the hand of the sire, 
placed it in that of the lady, and added - 

"Go and talk over the pardon." 

As soon as Amador found himself alone with Perrotte 
he spoke as follows : 

"You are to blame, my dear, for having wished to 
torment a poor servant of God ; therefore you are now 
the object of celestial wrath, which will fall upon you. 
To whatever place you fly it will always follow you, 
will seize upon you in every limb, even after your 
death, and will cook you like a pasty in the oven of 
hell, where you will simmer eternally, and every day 
you will receive seven hundred thousand million lashes 
of the whip, for the one I received through you." 

"Ah, holy father," said the wench, casting herself at 
the monk's feet, "you alone can save me, for by you I 
should be sheltered from the anger of God." 

Saying this she placed herself close beside him, and 
exclaimed : 

"By my faith ! monks are better than knights. " 

"By the sulphur of the devil ! are you not acquainted 
with monks?" 

"No," said Perrotte. 

"And you don't know the service that monks sing 
without saying a word?" 


Thereupon the monk went through this said service 
for her, as it is sung on great feast-days, with all the 
grand effects used in monasteries. By his orders, 


Perrotte conducted him to Mademoiselle de Cande, the 
lord's sister, to whom he went in order to learn if it 
was her desire to confess to him, because monks came 
so rarely to the castle. The lady was delighted, as 
would any good christian have been, at such a chance 
of clearing out her conscience. Amador requested her 
to show him her conscience, which she did, the which 
was found in a bad state, but which was immediately 
repaired. This repairing woke up the younger demoi- 
selle de Cande, who came to watch the proceedings. 
You may imagine that the monk' had hoped ^or this 
occurrence, since his mouth watered at the sight of this 
fair blossom, whom he also confessed, because the elder 
lady could not hinder him bestowing upon the younger 
one what remained of the indulgences. The morning 
having dawned, Amador went to rest himself in his bed, 
which Perrotte had put straight again. Everyone 
slept, thanks to the monk, so long that no one in the 
castle was up before noon, which was the dinner hour. 

The servants all believed the monk to be a devil who 
had carried off the cats, the pigs, and also their masters. 
In spite of these ideas, however, every one was in the 
room at meal time. 

'Come, my father," said the chatelaine, giving her arm 
to the monk, whom she put at her side in the baron's 
chair, to the great astonishment of the attendants, be- 
cause the Sire of Cande* said not a word. "Page, give 
some of this to Father Amador," said madame. 

"Father Amador has need of so and so," said the de- 
moiselle de Cande. 

" Fill up Father Amador's goblet," said the sire. 

"Father Amador has no bread," said the little lady. 

"What do you require, Father Amador?" said Per- 


It was Father Amador here, Father Amiuor there. 
He was regaled like a little maiden on her wedding- 

Amador munched and chewed, tried all the dishes, 
sneezed, blew himself out, strutted and stamped about 
like a bull in a field. Dinner over, the Lady of Candd, 
the demoiselle, and the little one, besought the Sire de 
Cande* with a thousand fine arguments, to terminate the 
litigation. A great deal was said to him by madame, 
who pointed out to him how useful a monk was in a cas- 
tle; by mademoiselle, who wished for the future to pol- 
ish up her conscience every day; by the little one, who 
asked that this monk might always be at Cande. If ever 
the difference were arranged, it would be by the monk; 
the monk was of a good understanding, gentle and virtu- 
ous as a saint; it was a misfortune to be at enmity with 
a monastery containing such monks. Then he sent for 
the clerk, who wrote down for him, and also for the 
monk. Then Amador surprised them exceedingly by 
showing them the charters and letters of credit, which 
would prevent the sire and his clerk delaying this agree- 
ment. When the Lady of Cande saw them about to put 
an end to this old case, she went to the linen-chest to get 
some fine cloth to make a new one for her dear Amador. 
Every one was eager to work at the gown. Madame 
cut it, the servant put the hood on, the demoiselle sewed 
it, and the little demoiselle worked at the sleeves. And 
all set so heartily to work to adorn the monk, that the 
robe was ready by supper-time, as was also the charter 
of agreement prepared and sealed by the Sire de Cande\ 
"Ah, my father !" said the lady, "if you love us, you 
will refresh yourself after your merry labor by washing 
yourself in a bath that I have had heated by Perrotte." 

Amador was then bathed in scented water. When he 


came out he found a new robe of fine linen and lovely 
sandals ready for him, which made him appear the most 
glorious monk in the world. 

Meanwhile, the monks of Turpenay, fearing for 
Amador, had ordered two of their number to spy about 
the castle. These spies came round by the moat, just 
as Perrotte threw Amador's greasy old gown, with other 
rubbish, into it. Seeing which, they thought that it was 
all over with the poor madman. They therefore re- 
turned, and announced that it was certain Amador had 
suffered martyrdom in the service of the abbey. Hear- 
ing which, the abbot ordered them to assemble in the 
chapel and pray to God, in order to assist this devoted 
servant in his torments. The monk having supped, put 
his charter into his girdle, and wished to return to Tur- 
penay. Then he found at the foot of the steps mad- 
ame's mare, bridled and saddled, and held ready for him 
by a groom. The lord had ordered his men-at-arms to 
accompany the good monk, so that no accident might 
befall him. Madame followed him with her eyes, and 
proclaimed him a splendid rider. Perrotte declared 
for a monk he held himself more upright in the saddle 
than any of the men-at-arms. Mademoiselle de Cande" 
sighed. The little one wished to have him for her con- 

When Amador and his suite came to the gates of the 
abbey a scene of terror ensued, since the guardian 
thought that tte Sire de Cande had had his appetite for 
monks whetted by the blood of poor Amador, and wished 
to sack the abbey. But Amador shouted with his fine 
bass voice, and was recognized and admitted into the 
court yard; and when he dismounted from madame's 
mare there was uproar enough to make the monks as 
wild as April moons. They gave vent to shouts of joy 


in the refectory and all came to congratulate Amador, 
who waved the charter over his head. The good abbot 
having had the document of the Sire de Cande* read, 
went about saying: 

" On these divine occasions there always appears the 
finger of God, to whom we should render thanks. " 

The termination of this trial between the Sieur de 
Cande and the abbey of Turpenay was followed by a bles- 
sing which rendered him devoted to the church, because 
nine months after he had a son. Two years afterwards 
Amador was chosen abbot by the monks, who, reckoned 
upon a merry government with a madcap. But Amador, 
become an abbot, became steady and austere, because 
he had conquered his evil desires by his labors, and 
recast his nature at the female forge. Amador was then 
the instrument chosen by Providence to reform our illus- 
trious abbey, since he put everything right there, 
watched night and day over his monks, counted them in 
chapel as a shepherd counts his sheep, kept them well in 
hand, and punished their faults so severely, that he 
made them most virtuous brethren. 

This teaches us to look upon womankind as the instru- 
ments of our salvation than of our pleasure. Besides 
which, this narrative teaches us that we should never 
attempt to struggle with the churchmen. 

The king and the queen found this tale in the best 
taste; the courtiers confessed that they had never heard 
a better, and the ladies would all willingly have been the 
heroines of it. 


About the time ol the first flight of the dauphin which 
threw our good sire, Charles the Victorious, into a state 
of great dejection, there happened a great misfortune to a 
noble house of Touraine, since extinct in every branch; 
and it is owing to this fact that this most deplorable his- 
tory may be brought to light. To aid him in this work 
the author calls to his assistance the holy confessors> 
martyrs, and other celestial dominations, who, by the 
commandments of God, were the promoters of good in 
this affair. 

From some, defect in his character, the Sire Imbert de 
Bastarnay had no confidence in the mind of the female of 
man, whom he considered much too animated, on account 
of her numerous vagaries, and it may be he was right. 
In consequence of this idea he reached his old age with- 
out a companion, which was certainly not to his advan- 
tage. Always leading a solitary life, this said man had 
no idea of making himself agreeable to others, having 


only been mixed up with wars and the orgies of bache- 
lors, with whom he did not put himself out of the way. 
An angel would have w r alked a long way without meet- 
ing an old warrior firmer at his post, a lord with a more 
spotless scutcheon, of shorter speech, and more perfect 

Certain people have stated, they have heard that he 
gave sound advice, and was a good and profitable man 
to consult. When he was sixty in appearance, though 
only fifty in years, he determined to take unto himself a 
wife, in order to obtain lineage. Then, while foraging 
about for a place where he might be able to find a lady 
to his liking, he heard much vaunted the great merits 
and perfections of a daughter of the illustrious house of 
Rohan. The young lady in question was called Bertha, 
that being her pet name. Imbert having been to see her 
at the castle of Montbazon, was, in consequence of the 
prettiness and innocent virtue of this said Bertha de Ro- 
han, siezed with so great a desire to possess her, that he 
determined to make her his wife. This marriage was 
soon celebrated, because the Sire de Rohan had seven 
daughters, and hardly knew how to provide for them all. 
Now the good man Bastarnay, happily found Bertha a 
maiden, which fact bore witness to her proper bringing 
up and perfect maternal correction. In order that we 
may here finish with this portion of the story, let us at 
once state that from this legitimate grain was born the 
Sire de Bastarnay, who was duke by the grace of Louis 
the Eleventh, his chamberlain, and, more than that, his 
ambassador in the countries of Europe. At first the fair 
lady of Bastarnay comported herself so loyally that her 
society caused those thick vapors and black clouds to 
vanish which obscured in the mind of this great man the 
brightness of the femiirne glory. Now, according to 


the custom of unbelievers, he passed from suspicion to 
confidence so thoroughly, that he yielded up the govern- 
ment of his house to the said Bertha, and made her mis- 
tress of his deeds and actions. To speak truly on all 
points, it should be explained that this virtuous behavior 
considerably aided the little boy, who during six years 
occupied day and night the attention of his pretty mother. 
This good mother knew no other pleasures than those of 
his rosy lips, read in no other book than his clear baby 
eyes, in which the blue sty was reflected, and listened 
to no other music than his cries, which sounded in her 
ears as angels' whispers. This employment and the lit- 
tle taste which Bertha had for the blisses of matrimony, 
much delighted the old man, since he would have been 
unable to return the affection of a too amorous wife. 
After six years had passed away, the mother w r as com- 
pelled to give her son into the hands of the grooms and 
other persons to whom Messire de Bastarney committed 
the task to mould him properly, in order that his heir 
should have an heritage of the virtues, qualities and 
courage of the house, as well as the domains and the 
name. Then did Bertha shed many tears, her happiness 
being gone. 

The good man Bastarnay was not a smart young fel- 
low of an knowing nature, and acquainted with the pranks 
of the thing. He did not trouble himself much about 
the fashion in which he killed a soldier so long as he 
killed him; he would have killed him in all ways without 
saying a word, in battle, of course, understood. This 
perfect heedlessness in the matter of death was in accord- 
ance with his nonchalance in the matter of life, the birth 
and manner of censuring a child, and the ceremonies 
thereto appertaining. The good sire was ignorant of the 
many litigious, dilatory, interlocutory, and preparatory 


exploits; of the sweet perfumed branches gathered little 
by little in the forests of love, fondlings, coddlings, hug- 
gings, nursing, the bites at the cherry, the cat-licking, 
and other little tricks and traffic of love which ruffians 
know, which lovers preserve, and which the ladies love 
better than their salvation, because there is more of the 
cat than the woman in them. This shines forth in per- 
fect evidence in. their feminine ways. If you think it 
worth while watching them, examine them attentively 
while they eat: not one of them puts her knife in the 
eatables and thrasts it into her mouth, as do brutally the 
males; no, they turn over their food, pick the pieces that 
please them as they would gray peas in a dovecot, play 
with their knife and spoon as if they only ate in conse- 
quence of a judge's order, so much do they dislike to go 
straight to the point, and make free use of variations, 
finesse and little tricks in everything, which is the 
especial attribute of these creatures, and the reason that 
the sons of Adam delight in them, since they do every- 
thing differently to themselves, and they do well. You 
think so, too. Good! I love you. Now then, imbert 
de Bastarnay, an old soldier, ignorant of the tricks of 
love, entered upon his duty in a rather unceremonious 
manner. Although Bertha was not used to such treat- 
ment, (she was but fifteen) she believed, in her true 
faith, that the happiness of becoming a mother de- 
manded this terrible and dreadful business; so during 
this painful task she would pray to God to assist her, 
and recite Aves to our Lady, esteeming her lucky in only 
having the Holy Ghost to endure. Now, seeing that 
the old fellow was scarcely equal to the emergency, 
she lived in perfect solitude, like a nun. She hated 
the society of men, and never suspected that the Author 
of the world had put so much joy in it as she had only 


received infinite misery. Do not be astonished, there- 
fore, that she held aloof from that gallant tourney in 
which it is the mare who governs her cavalier, guides him, 
fatigues him, and abuses him if he stumbles. This is the 
true history of certain unhappy unions, and the certain 
reason of the follies committed by certain women, who 
too late perceive that they have been deceived, and at- 
tempt to crowd into a day more time than it will hold to 
have their proper share of life. That is philosophical, 
my friends. Therefore study well this page, in order that 
you may wisely look to the proper government of your 
wives, your sweethearts, and all females generally and 
particularly who by chance maybe under your care, from 
which God preserve you. Thus a virgin in deed, although 
a mother, Bertha was in her one-and-twentieth year a 
castle flower and the honor of the province. At this time 
Bertha lived near the town of Loches, in the castle of her 
lord, and there resided, with no desire to do anything but 
look after her household duties, after the old custom 
of the good housewives, from which the ladies of France 
were led away when Queen Catherine and the Italians 
came with their balls and merry-makings. To these prac- 
tices Francis the First and his succssors lent their aid. 
This, however, has nothing to do with my story. About 
this time the lord, and lady of Bastarnay were invited by 
the king to come to his town of Loches, in which the 
beauty of the lady of Bastarnay had made a great noise. 
Bertha came to Loches and was the centre of the hom- 
age of all the young nobles, who feasted their eyes on this 
apple of love, and of the old ones, who warmed them- 
selves at this sun. Bertha was more talked about in 
Loches than either God or the Gospels, which enraged a 
great many ladies who were not so bountifully endowed 
with charms. A young lady having early perceived that 


one of her lovers was smitten with Bertha, took such a 
hatred to her that from it arose all the misfortunes of the 
lady of Bastarnay; but also from the same source came 
her happiness, and her discovery of the gentle land of 
love, of which she was ignorant. This wicked lady had 
a relation who had confessed to her, directly he saw 
Bertha, that to be her lover he would be willing to die. 
Bear in mind that this cousin was as handsome as a girl 
is beautiful, would have gained his enemies forgiveness 
by asking, for it, so melodious was his 3 r oung voice, and 
was scarcely twenty years of age. 

"Dear cousin," said she to him, "leave the room, and 
go to your house; I will endeavor to give you this joy." 

The young gentleman out of the way, the lady came 
rubbing her treacherous nose against Bertha's, and called 
her "My friend, my treasure, my star of beauty;" trying 
in every way to be agreeable to her, to make her ven- 
geance more certain on the poor child who, all un- 
wittingly, had caused her lover's heart to be faithless, 
which, for women ambitious in love, is the worst of 
infidelities. After a little conversation, the plotting 
lady suspected that poor Bertha was a maiden in matters 
of love, when she saw her eyes full of limpid water, no 
wrinkle on her brow; in short, no habit of pleasure ap- 
parent on her face — clear as the face of an innocent 
maiden. Then this traitress put certain women's ques- 
tions to her, and was perfectly assured by the replies 
of Bertha, that, if she had had the profit of being a 
mother, the pleasures of love had been denied to her. 
Then she told her, that in the town of Loches there 
lived a young and noble lady, of the family of Rohan, 
who at that time had need of the assistance of a lady 
of position to be reconciled with the Sire Louis de Ro- 
han; that if she had as much goodness as God had given 

^edl Stories—35 


her beauty, she would take her with her to her castle, ascer- 
tain for herself the sanctity of her life, and bring about a 
reconciliation with the Sire de Rohan, who refused to re- 
ceive her. To this Bertha consented without hesitation, 
because the misfortunes of this girl were known to her, 
but not the poor young lady herself, whose name was 
Sylvia, and whom she had believed to be in a foreign land. 
It is here necessary to state why the king had given 
this invitation to the Sire de Bastarnay. He had a sus- 
picion of the first flight of his son, the dauphin, into 
Burgundy and wished to deprive him of so good a coun- 
cilor as was the said Bastarnay. But the veteran, faith- 
ful to young Louis, had already, without saying a word, 
made up his mind. Therefore he took Bertha back to 
his castle; but before they set out she told him she 
had taken a companion and introduced her to him. It 
was the young lord, disguised as a girl, with the as- 
sistance of his cousin, who was jealous of Bertha, and 
annoyed at her virtue. Imbert drew back a little when 
he learnt that it was Sylvia de Rohan, but was also much 
affected at the kindness of Bertha, whom he thanked 
for her attempt to bring a little wandering lamb back to 
the fold. He made much of his wife, when his last night 
at home came, left men-at-arms about the castle, and 
then set out with the dauphin for Burgundy, having a 
cruel enemy in his bosom without suspecting it. The 
face of the young lad was unknown to him because 
he had been brought up by Cardinal Dunois, in whose 
service he was a knight-bachelor. The old lord, believing 
that it was a girl, thought him very modest and timid, 
because the lad, doubting the language of his eyes, kept 
them always cast down; and when Bertha kissed him on 
the mouth, he trembled lest his petticoat might be indis- 
creet, and would walk away to the window, so fearful was 


he of being recognized as a man by Bastarnay, and killed 
before he had made love to the lady. Therefore he was 
as joyful as any lover would have been in his place, when 
"the portcullis was lowered, and the old lord galloped 
away across the country. He gave, indeed, fifty gold 
marks to pay God for his delight. But by chance he had 
to pay for it over again to the devil, as it appears from 
the following facts, if the tale pleases you well enough to 
induce you to follow the narrative, which will be suc- 
cinct, as all good speeches should be. 



This bachelor was the young Sire Jehan de Sacchez, 
cousin of the Sieur de Montmorency, to whom, by the 
death of the said Jehan, the fiefs 01 Sacchez and other 
places would return, according to the deed of tenure. 
He was twenty years of age; therefore you may be sure 
that he had a hard job to get through the first day. 
While old Imbert was galloping across the fields, the two 
cousins perched themselves under the lantern of the port- 
cullis, in order to keep him the longer in view, and 
waved him signals of farewell. When the clouds of dust 
raised by the heels of the horses were no longer visible 
upon the horizon, they came down and went back into 
the great room of the castle. 

"What shall we do, dear cousin?" said Bertha to the 
false Sylvia. ' l Do you like music ? we will play together. 
Let us sing the lay of some sweet ancient bard. Eh ? 
what do you say ? Come to my organ; come along. As 
you love me, sing ! " 


Then she took Jehan by the hand and led him to the 
organ, at which the young fellow seated himself prettily 
after the manner of women. "Ah! sweet coz," cried 
Bertha, as soon as the first notes tried, the lad turned 
his head towards her, in order that they might sing to- 
gether, "ah, sweet coz, you have a wonderful glance in 
your eye; you move I know not what in my heart.'' 

"Ah, cousin," replied the false Sylvia, "that it is which 
has been my ruin. A sweet milord of the land across 
the sea told me so often that I had fine eyes, and kissed 
them so well, that I yielded, so much pleasure did I feel 
in letting them be kissed." 

"Cousin, does love, then, commence in the eyes?" 

" In them is the forge of Cupid's bolts, my dear Bertha," 
said the lover, casting fire and flame at her. 

" Let us go on with our singing." 

Then they sang by Jehan's desire, a lay of Christine 
de Pisan, every word of which breathed love, 

"Let us leave off singing," said Bertha; "it has too 
great an effect upon me. Come to the window; we can 
do needlework until the evening." 

"Ah, dear cousin of my soul! I don't know how to 
hold the needle in my fingers, having been accustomed, 
to my perdition, to do something else with them. " 

"Eh ? what did you do then all day long? " 

"Ah, I yielded to the current of love, which makes 
days seem instants, months seem days, and years months; 
and if it could last, would gulp down eternity like a 
strawberry, seeing that it is all youth and fragrance, 
sweetness and endless joy." 

Then the youth dropped his beautiful eyelids over his 
eyes, and remained as melancholy as a poor lady who 
has been abandoned by her lover, who weeps for him, 
wishes to kiss him, and would pardon his perfidy if he 


would but seek once again the sweet path to his once- 
loved fold. 

"Cousin, does love blossom m the married state r" 

"Oh no," said Sylvia; "Because in the married state 
everything is duty, but in love everything is done in per- 
fect freedom of heart. This difference communicates an 
indescribable soft balm to those caresses which are the 
flowers of love." 

"Cousin, let us change the conversation; it affects me 
more than did the music." 

She called hastily to a servant to bring her boy to her, 
who came, and when Sylvia saw him, she exclaimed: 

"Ah, the little dear, he is as beautiful as Love ! " 

Then she kissed him heartily upon the forehead, 

"Come, my little one," said the mother, as the child 
clambered into her lap. "Thou art thy mother's bless- 
ing, her unclouded joy, the delight of her every hour, 
her crown, her jewel, her own pure pearl, her spotless 
soul, her treasure, her morning and evening star, her 
only flame and her heart's darling. " 

"Ah, cousin!" said Sylvia, "you are speaking the 
language of love to him." 

" Love is a child, then ?" 

"Yes, cousin ; therefore the heathen portrayed him as 
a little boy. n 

And with many other remarks fertile in the imagery of 
love the two pretty cousins amused themselves until 
supper-time, playing with the child. 

The youthful gallant, who had had certain fears about 
watering , this unfertile plain, finally concluded it would 
only be following the commandment of God to win this 
saint to love ; and he thought rightly. At night Bertha 
asked her cousin to keep her company in her big 
seigneurial bed. To which request Sylvia replied that 


nothing would give her greater pleasure. The curfew 
rang, and found the two cousins in a chamber richly 
ornamented with carpeting, fringes, and royal tapestries. 
Sylvia after saying her prayers, and making her other 
preparations for the night soon tumbled into bed, happy 
at being able to catch an occasional glimpse of the 
wondrous charms of the chatelaine. Bertha, believing 
herself to be with a girl, did not omit any of her usual 
practices; she washed her feet, exposed her delicate 
little shoulders, and did as all the ladies do when they 
are retiring to rest. 

"Are you sick, Sylvia, that you have such a fever"? 
said she. 

"I am always feverish like that when I go to bed," 
replied her companion, "because at that time there 
comes back to my memory the pretty little tricks that 
he invented to please me." 

"Ah, cousin, tell me all about this he. Tell all the 
sweets of love to me, who live beneath the shadow of a 
hoary head, of which the snows keep me from such 
feelings. Tell me all ; you are cured. It will be a 
good warning to me, and thus your misfortunes will 
have been a salutary lesson to two poor weak women. " 

"I do not know I ought to obey you, sweet cousin," 
said the youth. 

"But," said Bertha, "between us, would it be a sin?" 

"It would be, on the contrary, a joy both here and 
in heaven ; the angels would shed their fragrance 
around you, and make sweet music in your ears." 

"Tell me quickly, then," said Bertha. 

"Well, then, this is how my dear lord made my heart 

With these words Jehan strained Bertha to his heart, 
for in the soft light of the lamp, she was like the pretty 
petals of a lily at the bottom of the virgin calyx. 


"When he held me as I hold thee he said to me, 
with a voice far sweeter than mine : 'Ah, Bertha, 
thou art my eternal love, my priceless treasure, my joy 
by day and my joy by night ; thou art fairer than the 
day is day ; there is naught so pretty as thou art. I 
love thee more than God, and would endure a thousand 
deaths for the happiness I ask of thee !' Then he would 
kiss me, not after the manner of husbands, which is 
rough, but in a peculiar dove-like fashion. " 

To show her there and then how much better was 
the method of lovers, he sucked all the honey from 
Bertha's lips, and taught her how, with her pretty 
tongue, small and rosy as that of a cat, she could speak 
to the heart without saying a single word. And who- 
ever had been in his place would have thought himself 
a wicked man not to imitate him. 

"Ah!" said Bertha, fast bound in love without know- 
ing it; "this is better. I must take care to tell Imbert 
about it." 

"Are you in your proper senses, cousin? Say noth- 
ing about it to your old husband. His piebald beard 
would hardly please this centre of bliss, that rose in 
which lies our wealth, our substance, our loves, and our 
fortune. Do you know that it is a living flower which 
should be fondled thus, and not used like a trombone, 
or as if it were a catapult of war? 

Thus saying the handsome youth comported himself 
and poor innocent Bertha exclaimed : 

"Ah ! cousin, the angels are come ! but so beautiful 
is their music, that I hear nothing else, and so flaming 
are their luminous rays, that my eyes are closing. " 

And, indeed, she fainted under the burden of love 
which burst forth in her like the highest notes of the 


organ, which glistened like the most magnificent aurora, 
and which flowed in her veins like the finest musk. 

"Ah ! who would not have been married in England : 

"My sweet lady," said Jehan, "you are married to me 
in France, a man who would give a thousand lives for 
you if he had them." 

Poor Bertha gave a shriek so sharp that it pierced 
the walls, and leaped to the floor like a mountebank of 
the plains of Egypt would have done. She fell upon 
her knees before her Prie-Dieu, joined her hands, and 
wept more pearls than ever Mary Magdalene wore. "Ah, 
I am dead!" she cried; "I am deceived by a devil who 
has taken the face of an angel. I am lost, without being 
more guilty than you, Madame the Virgin. Implore 
the pardon of God for me, if I have not that of men 
upon earth ; or let me die, so that I may not blush 
before my lord and master. " 

Hearing that she said nothing against him, Jehan 
rose, quite aghast to see Bertha take everything so to 
heart. But the moment she heard her Gabriel moving 
she sprang quickly to her feet, regarding him with a 
tearful face, and her eyes illuminated with a holy anger, 
which made her more lovely to look upon, exclaimed : 
"If you advance a single step towards me, I will make 
one towards death !" 

And she took her stiletto in her hand. 

So heart-rending was the tragic spectacle of her grief, 
that Jehan answered her : 

"It is not for thee but for me to die, my dear, 
beautiful lady, more dearly loved than will ever woman 
be again upon this earth. " 

"If you had truly loved me you would not have killed 
me as you have, for I will die sooner than be reproached 
by my husband." 


"Will you die?" said he. 

"Assuredly," said she. 

"Now, if I am here pierced with a thousand blows, 
you will have your husband's pardon, to whom you 
will say that if your innocence was surprised, you have 
avenged his honor by killing the man who had deceived 
you; and it will be the greatest happiness that could 
ever befall me to die for you, the moment you refuse 
to live with me." 

Hearing this tender discourse spoken with tears, 
Bertha dropped the dagger; Jehan sprang upon it, and 
thrust it into his breast, saying : "Such happiness can 
be paid for but with death." 

And he fell stiff and stark. 

Bertha, terrified, called aloud for her maid. The 
servant came, and terribly alarmed to see a wounded 
man in madame's chamber, and madame holding him 
up, crying and saying, "What have you done, my love?" 
because she believed he was dead, and remembered her 
vanished joys, and thought how beautiful Jehan must 
be, since every one, even Imbert, believed him to be a 
girl. In her sorrow, sobbing and crying, she confessed 
everything to her maid. Hearing this the poor lover 
tried to open his eyes, and only succeeded in showing 
a little bit of the white of them. 

u Ha! madame, don't cry out," said the servant, "let 
us keep our senses together, and save this pretty knight. 
I will go and seek La Fallotte, in order not to let any 
physician or surgeon into this secret, and as she is a 
sorceress she will, to please madame, perform the mira- 
cle of healing this wound so that not a trace of it shall 
remain. " 

"Run!" replied Bertha. "I will love you, and will 
pay you well for this assistance." 


But before anything else was done the lady and her 
maid agreed to be silent about this adventure, and hide 
Jehan from every eye. Then the servant went out into 
the night to seek La Fallotte, and was accompanied 
by her mistress as far as the postern, because the 
guard could not raise the portcullis without Bertha's 
especial order. Bertha found on going back that her 
lover had fainted, for the blood was flowing from the 
wound. At this sight she drank a little of his blood, 
thinking that Jehan had shed it for her. Affected by 
this great love and by the danger, she kissed this pretty 
varlet of pleasure on the face, bound up his wound 
beseeching him not to die, and exclaiming that if he 
would live she would love him with all her heart. 
Moved by her kisses, Jehan came back to his senses, 
his look improved and he could see Bertha, from 
whom in a feeble voice he asked forgiveness. But 
Bertha forbade him to speak until La Fallotte had 

La Fallotte was a hunchback, vehemently suspected 
of dealings in necromancy, and of riding to nocturnal 
orgies on a broomstick, according to the custom of 
witches. Certain persons had seen her putting the 
harness on her broom in her stable, which, as every 
one knows, is on the housetops. To tell the truth, she 
possessed certain medical secrets, and was of such great 
service to ladies, that she lived in perfect tranquillity, 
without giving up the ghost on a pile of fagots, but on 
a feather bed, for she made a hatful of money, although 
the physicians tormented her by declaring that she sold 
poisons, which was certainly true, as will be shown in 
the sequel. The servant and La Fallotte came on the 
same ass, making such haste that they arrived at the 
castle before the day had fully dawned. The old hunch- 


back exclaimed as she entered the chamber, Now, my 
children, what is the mattter?" This was her manner, 
which was familiar with great people who appeared 
very small to her. She put on her spectacles, and 
carefully examined the wound, saying, "This is fine 
blood, my dear; you have tasted it. That's all right, 
he has bled externally." 

To be brief, Fallotte gave it as her medical opinion, 
that the youth would not die from this blow, "although, " 
said she, looking at his hand, "he will come to a violent 
end through this night's deed." 

Faloltte prescribed certain remedies and promised to 
come again the following night. Indeed, she tended 
the wound for a whole fortnight, coming secretly at 

The good people believed that it was the malady 
which was fraught with danger ; but it was not ! it 
was the convalescence, for the stronger Jehan grew, the 
weaker Bertha became. To be brief, she loved him 
more and more. But in the midst of her happiness, 
always associated by apprehension by the menacing 
words of Fallotte, and tormented by her great religion, 
she was in great fear of her husband, Imbert, to whom 
she was compelled to write that he would have a child, 
who would be ready to delight him on his return. Poor 
Bertha avoided her lover, Jehan, during the day on 
which she wrote the lying letter, over which she soaked 
her handkerchief with tears. Finding himself avoided, 
Jehan believed that she was beginning to hate him, and 
straightway he cried too. In the evening Bertha 
touched by his tears told him the cause of her sorrow, 
pointing out to him how much they were both to blame, 
gave utterance to such christian sentences, ornamented 
with holy tears and contrite prayers, that Jehan was 


touched to the quick by the sincerity of his mistress. 
This love innocently united to repentance, this nobility 
in sin, this mixture of weakness and strength, would, 
as the old authors say, have changed the nature of a 
tiger, melting it to pity. You will not be astonished, 
then that Jehan was compelled to pledge his word as a 
knight-bachelor, to obey her in whatever she should 
command him, to save her in this world and in the 
next. Delighted at this confidence in her, and this 
goodness of heart, Bertha cast herself at Jehan's feet, 
and kissing them, exclaimed : 

"Oh, my love! whom I am compelled to love, 
although it is a mortal sin to do so, thou who art so 
good, so gentle to thy poor Bertha, if thou woiildst 
have her always think of thee with pleasure, and stop 
the torrent of her tears, whose source is so pretty and 
so pleasant Jehan, if thou wouldst that the memory of 
our celestial joys, angel music, and the fragrance of 
love should be a consolation to me in my loneliness 
rather than a torment, do that which the Virgin com- 
manded me to order thee in a dream, in which I was 
beseeching her to direct me in the present case, for I 
had asked her to come to me, and she had come. Then 
I related to her all I had done, and the horrible anguish 
I should have to endure, whereupon the beautiful Virgin 
told me, smiling, that the church offered its forgive- 
ness for our faults if we followed her commandments ; 
that it was necessary to save one's self from the pains 
of hell, by reforming before Heaven became angry." 

Jehan assured her of his perfect obedience, and raised 
her, seating her on his knee and kissing her. The un- 
happy Bertha told him then that this garment was a 
monk's frock, and trembling besought him to enter the 
church, and retire to Marmoutier, beyond Tours, pledging 


him her word that she would grant him a last night, 
after which she would be neither for him nor any one 
else in the world again and each year as a reward 
for this she would let him come to her one day, in order 
that he might see his child. Jehan, bound by his oath, 
promised to obey her, saying that by this means he 
would be faithful to her. 

Then they returned to the nest which contained their 
love, but only to bid a final adieu to all their lovely 
flowers. The especial property of true love is a certain 
harmony, which brings it about that the more one gives, 
the more the other receives, and vice versa. Thus, in 
the hearts of two lovers, the roses of pleasure multiply 
within them in a manner which causes them to be aston- 
ished that so much joy can be contained, without any- 
thing bursting. Bertha and Jehan would have wished 
in this night to have finished their days, and thought 
that love had resolved to bear them away on his wings 
with the kiss of death; but they held out in spite of 
these numerous multiplications. 

On the morrow, as the return of Monsieur Imbert de 
Bastarnay was close at hand, the lady Sylvia was com- 
pelled to depart. The poor girl left her cousin covering 
her with tears and with kisses; it was always her last, 
but the last lasted till evening. Then he was compelled 
to leave her, and he did leave her, although the blood of 
his heart congealed, like the falllen wax of a Paschal 
candle. According to his promise, he wended his way 
toward Marmoutier, which he entered towards the elev- 
enth hour of the day, and was placed among the novices. 

The joy of her husband, when he saw Bertha without 
her waistband commenced the martyrdom of this poor 
woman, who did not know how to deceive, and who, at 
each false word, went to her Prie-Dieu, burst into prayers. 


and recommended herself to the graces of Messieurs the 
saints in paradise. It happened that she cried so loudly 
to God that He heard her, because He hears everthing. 
He hears the stones that roll beneath the waters, and 
the flies who wing their way through the air. Bertha 
did not know what to do, for she adored the child of 
Jehan, and could only feel a feeble affection for the 
other, whom, nevertheless, she protected against the evil 
intentions of the old fellow Bastarnay. Bertha, satisfied 
with the way things were going, quieted her conscience 
with falsehood, and thought that all danger was past, 
since twelve years had elapsed with no other alloy than 
the doubt which at times embittered her joy. Each 
year, according to her pledged faith, the monk of Mar- 
moutier, who was unknown to every one except the ser- 
vant-maid, came to pass a whole day at the chateau to 
see his child, although Bertha had many times besought 
brother Jehan to yield his right. But Jehan pointed to 
the child, saying, "You see him every day of the year, 
and I only once ! " And the poor mother could find no 
words ready to answer this speech with. 

A few months before the last rebellion of the Dauphin 
Louis against his father, the boy was treading closely on 
the heels of his twelfth year, and appeared likely to be- 
come a great savant, so learned was he in all the sciences. 
Old Bastarnay had never been more delighted at having 
been a father in his life, and resolved to take his son with 
him to the Court of Burgundy, where Duke Charles 
promised to make for this well-beloved son a position, 
which should be the envy of princes. Seeing matters 
thus arranged, the devil judged the time to be ripe for 
his mischiefs. He took his tail and flapped it right into 
the middle of this happiness, so that he could stir it up 
in his own peculiar way. 




The servant of the lady of Bastarnay, who was then 
about five-and -thirty years old, fell in love with one of 
the master's men-at-arms who administered to her want, 
and the poor woman begged her mistress to intercede for 
her with the master, so that he might compel this wicked 
man to finish at the altar that which he had commenced 
elsewhere. Madame de Bastarnay had no difficulty in 
obtaining this favor from him, and the servant was quite 
satisfied. But the old warrior hastened into his pretor- 
ium, and blew him up sky high, ordering him under the 
pain of the gallows, to marry the girl; which the soldier 
preferred to do, thinking more of his neck than of 
his peace of mind. Bastarnay sent also for the fe- 
male, to whom he imagined he ought to sing a litany, 
mixed with epithets and ornamented with extremely 
strong expressions, and make her think, by way 
of punishment, that she was not going to be 
married, but flung into one of the cells in the gaol. 
The girl fancied that madame wanted to get rid of her, 
in order to inter the secret of the birth of her beloved 
son. With this impression, when the old ape said such 
outrageous things to her, she replied that he certainly 
was a very big fool, seeing that for a long time past his 
wife had been playing the harlot, and with a monk, too, 
which was the worst thing that could happen to a war- 
rior. Think of the greatest storm you ever saw in your 
life, and you will have a weak sketch of the furious rage 
into which the old man fell when thus assailed in a por- 
tion of his heart where was a triple life. He seized the 


girl by the throat, and would have killed her there and 
then; but she, to prove her story, detailed the how, the 
why and the when, and said that if he had no faith in 
her, he could have the evidence of his own ears by hid- 
ing himself the day that Father Jehan de Sacchez, the 
. prior of Marmoutier, came. He would then hear the 
words of the father, who solaced himself for his year's 
fast, and in one day kissed his son for the rest of the 
year. Imbert ordered this woman instantly to leave the 
castle, since, if her accusation were true, he would kill 
her just as though she had invented a tissue of lies. In 
an instant he had given her a hundred crowns, besides 
her man, enjoining them not to sleep in Touraine; and, 
for greater security, they were conducted into Burgundy 
by de Bastarnay's officers. He informed his wife of their 
departure, saying that he had thought it best to get rid 
of her, but had given her a hundred crowns, and found 
employment for the man at the court of Burgundy. Ber- 
tha was astonished to learn that her maid had left the 
castle without receiving her dismissal from herself, her 
mistress; but she said nothing. Soon afterwards she 
had other fish to fry, for she became a prey to vague ap- 
prehensions, because her husband completely changed in 
his manner, commenced to notice the likeness of his first- 
born to himself, and could find nothing resembling his 
nose or his forehead, his this or his that, in the young- 
ster he loved so well. 

u He is my very image," replied Bertha one day that 
he was throwing out these hints. "Know you not, that 
in well-regulated households children resemble the father 
and mother, each in turn, or often both together ? " 

"You have become very learned, my dear," replied 
Bastarnay; "but I, who am an ignoramus, I should fancy 
that a child who resembled a monk -" 


"Had a monk for a father! " said Bertha, looking at 
him with an unflinching gaze, although ice rather than 
blood was coursing through her veins. 

The old fellow thought he was mistaken, and cursed 
the servant. As the day of Father Jehan's visit was close 
at hand, Bertha, whose suspicions were aroused by this 
speech, wrote him that it was her wish that he should 
not come this year, without, however, telling him her 
reason; then she went in search of La Fallotte at Loches, 
who was to give her letter to Jehan, and believed every- 
thing was safe for the present. On the regular day, how- 
ever, the prior arrived as usual. Bertha, seeing him, 
turned pale/ and asked him if he had not received her 

"What message?" said Jehan. 

"Ah! we are lost, then; the child, thou and I," replied 

"Why so ? " said the prior. 

"I know not," said she; "but our last day has come." 

She inquired of her dearly beloved son where Bastar- 
nay was. The young man told her that his father had 
been sent for by special messenger to Loches, and would 
not be back until evening. Thereupon Jehan wished, in 
spite of his mistress, to remain with her and his dear son, 
asserting that no harm would come of it, after the lapse 
of twelve years, since the birth of their boy. The days 
when that adventurous night you wot of was celebrated, 
Bertha stayed in her room with the poor monk until sup- 
per time. But on this occasion the lovers dined imme- 
diately, although the prior of Marmoutier reassured Ber- 
tha by pointing out to her the privileges of the church, 
and how Bastarnay, already in bad odor at court, would 
be afraid to attack a dignitary of Marmoutier. When 
they were sitting down to table their little one happened 

Droll Stories— 26 


to be playing, and In spite of the reiterated prayers of 
his mother, would not stop his games. And because 
young lads like to show off, this boy was delighted at 
being able to show the monk what a man he was becom- 
ing; he made the horse jump like a flea in the bed clothes, 
and sat as steady as a trooper in the saddle. 

"Let him have his way, my darling," said the monk 
to Bertha. "Disobedient children often become great 

Bertha ate sparingly, for her heart was as swollen as a 
sponge in water. At the first mouthful the monk felt in 
his stomach a pain, and on his palate a bitter taste of 
poison that caused him to suspect that the Bas- 
tarnay had given them all their quietus. Before he had 
made this discovery Bertha had eaten. Suddenly the 
monk pulled off the tablecloth and flung everything into 
the fireplace, telling Bertha his suspicion. Bertha 
thanked the Virgin that her son had been so taken up 
with his sport. Retaining his presence of mind, Jehan 
leaped into the coiuiyard, lifted his son from the horse, 
sprang across it himself, and flew across the country with 
such speed that you would have thought him a shooting 
star if you had seen him digging the spurs into the horse's 
bleeding flanks, and he was at Loches in Fallotte's house 
in the same space of time, that only the devil could have 
done the journey. He stated the case to her in two 
words, for the poison was already frying his marrow, and 
requested her to give him an antidote. 

"Alas," said the sorceress, "had I known that it was 
for you I was giving this poison, I would have received 
in my breast the dagger's point, with which I was threat- 
ened, and would have sacrificed my poor life to save that 
of a man of God, and of the sweetest woman that ever 
blossomed an this earth; for, alas! my dear friend, I 


have only two drops of the counter-poison that you see 
in this phial." 

"Is there enough for her?" 
"Yes; but go at once," said the old hag. 
The monk came back more quickly than he went, so 
that the horse died under him in the courtyard. He 
rushed into the room where Bertha, believing her last 
hour to be come, was kissing her son, and writhing like 
a lizard in the fire, uttering no cry for herself, but for the 
child, left to the wrath of Bastarnay, forgetting her own 
agony at the thought of his cruel future. 

"Take this," said the monk; "my life is saved! " 
Jehan had the great courage to say these words with 
an unmoved face, although he felt the claws of death 
seizing his heart. Hardly had Bertha drunk when the 
prior fell dead, not, however, without kissing his son, 
and regarding his dear lady with an eye that changed not 
even after his last sigh. This sight turned her cold as 
marble, and terrified her so much that she remained 
rigid before this dead man, stretched at her feet, press- 
ing the hand of her child, who wept, although her own 
eye was as dry as the Red Sea when the Hebrews 
crossed it under the leadership of Baron Moses. 
Aided by her son, she herself placed the monk in the 
middle of the bed, and stood by the side of it, 
praying with the boy, whom she then told that the prior 
was his true father. In this state she waited her evil 
hour, and her evil hour did not take long in coming, for 
towards the eleventh hour Bastarnay arrived, and was 
informed at the portcullis that the monk was dead, and 
not madame and the child, and he saw his beautiful 
Spanish horse lying dead. Thereupon, seized with a 
furious desire to slay Bertha and the monk's child, he 
sprang up the stairs with one bound; but at the sight of 


this corpse, he had no longer the courage to perpetrate 
this dark deed. After the first fury of his rage had 
passed, he could not bring himself to it, and quitted the 
room like a coward and a man taken in crime, stung to 
the quick by those prayers continuously said for the 
monk. The night was passed in tears, groans, and 
prayers. By an express order from madame, her servant 
had been to Loches to purchase for her the attire of a 
young lady of quality, and for her poor child a horse and 
the arms of an esquire; noticing which, the Sieur de 
Bastarnay was much astonished. He sent for madame 
and the monk's son, but neither mother nor child returned 
any answer, but quietly put on the clothes purchased by 
the servant. By madame's order this servant made up 
the account of her effects, arranged her clothes, purples, 
jewels and diamonds, as the property of a widow is ar- 
ranged when she renounces her rights. The report of 
these preparations ran through the house, and every one 
knew then that the mistress was about to leave it. 
Frightened at these preparations, old Bastarnay came 
into her chamber, and found her weeping over the body 
of Jehan, for her tears had come at last; but she dried 
them directly she preceived her husband. To his nu- 
merous questions she replied briefly by the confession of 
her fault, telling him how she had been duped, showing 
him upon the corpse the mark of a poniard wound; how 
long he had been getting well; and how, in obedience to 
her, and from penitence toward man and God, he had 
entered the church, abandoning the glorious career of a 
knight, putting an end to his name, which was certainly 
worse than death; how she had thought that even God 
Himself would not have refused the monk one day in the 
year to see the son for whom he sacrificed everything; 
how, not Wishing to live with a murderer, she was about 


to quit his house, leaving all her property behind her, 
because if the honor of the Bastarnays was stained, it 
was not she who had brought the shame about. 

Having with noble mien and a pale face uttered these 
beautiful words, she took her child by the hand and went 
out in great mourning. It was pitiful to see the Sieur 
de Bastarnay following her, ashamed, weeping, confes- 
sing himself to blame, and downcast and despairing, like 
a man being led to the gallows, there to be turned off. 

Bertha turned a deaf ear to everything. The desola- 
tion was so great that she found the drawbridge lowered, 
and hastened to quit the castle fearing it might be sud- 
denly raised again; but no one had the right or the heart 
to do it. She sat down on the kerb of the moat, in view 
of the whole castle, which begged her, with tears, to stay. 
Then, indicating the sire to her son with her finger, she 
spake to him as follows: 

" Child, behold the murderer of thy father, who was, 
as thou art aware, the poor prior; but. thou hast taken 
the name of this man. Give it him back here, even as 
thou leavest the dust taken by thy shoes from his castle. 
For the food that thou hast had in the castle, by God's 
help we will also settle;" 

Hearing this, Bastarnay would have let his wife receive 
a whole monastary of monks in order not to be aban- 
doned by her, and by a young squire capable of becoming 
the honor of his house, and remained with his head sunk 
down against the chains. 

Poor Bertha came to Montbazon to bid her father fare- 
well, telling him that this blow would be the cause of her 
death. The old Sire de Rohan presented his grandson 
with a splendid suit of armor, telling him so to acquire 
glory and honor that he might turn his mother's faults 
into eternal renown. Both then set out for the places 


then in a state of rebellion, in order to render such ser- 
vices to Bastarnay that he would receive from them more 
than life itself. Now the heat of the sedition was in the 
neighborhood of Angouleme, and of Bordeaux in Gui- 
enne where great battles and severe conflicts between the 
rebels and the royal armies were likely to take place. 
The principal one which finished the war was given 
between Ruffec and Angouleme where all the prisoners 
taken, were tried and hanged. This battle com- 
manded by old Bastarnay, took place seven months after 
the poisoning of Jehan. Now the baron knew that his 
head had been strongly recommended as one to be cut 
off, he being the right hand of Monseigneur Louis. 
Directly his men began to fall back, the old fellow found 
himself surrounded by six men determined to sieze him. 
The poor sire preferred rather to die than to be captured 
and save his family, and present the domains to his son. 
He defended himself like the brave old lion that he was. 
In spite of their number, these said soldiers were obliged 
to attack Bastarnay at the risk of killing him, and threw 
themselves together upon him, after having laid low two 
of his equerries and a page. In this extreme danger an 
esquire wearing the arms of Rohan, fell upon the assail- 
ants like a thunderbolt, and killed two of them, crying, 
"God save the Bastarnays ! " The third man-at-arms 
was so hard pressed by this squire, that he was obliged 
to leave the elder and turn against the younger, to whom 
he gave a thrust with his dagger through a flaw in his 
armor. Bastarnay was too good a comrade to fly with- 
out assisting the liberator of his house, who was badly 
wounded. With a blow of his mace he killed the man- 
at-arms, seized the squire, lifted him onto his horse, and 
gained the open, accompanied by a guide who led him 
to the castle of Roche-Foucauld, which he entered by 


night, and found in the great room Bertha de Rohan, 
who had arranged this retreat for him. But on removing 
the helmet of his prisoner, he recognized the son of 
Jehan, who expired upon the table, by a final effort kiss- 
ing his mother and saying in a loud voice to her, 
" Mother, we have paid the debt we owed him ! " Hear- . 
ing these words, the mother clasped the body of her love- 
child to her heart, and separated from him never again, 
for she died of grief, without hearing or heeding the par- 
don and repentance of Bastarnay. 

This strange calamity hastened the last day of the 
poor old man, who did not live to see the coronation of 
King Louis the Eleventh. He founded a daily mass in 
the church of Roche-Foucauld, where in the same grave 
he placed mother and son, with a large tombstone upon 
which their lives are much honored in the Latin language. 

The morals which any one can deduce from this his- 
tory are most profitable for the conduct of life, since this 
shows how gentlemen should be courteous with the dear- 
ly beloveds of their wives. Further, it teaches us that 
all children are blessings sent by God Himself, and over 
them fathers, whether true or false, have no right of mur- 
der, as was formerly the case at Rome, owing to a 
heathen and abominable law, which ill became that 
Christianity which makes us all sons of God, 


The maid of Portillon, who became La Tascherette, 
was, before she became a dyer, a laundress at the place 
of Portillon, from which she took her name. 

Now, the maid had her wash-house at Portillon from 
which she ran to the Loire with her washing in a 
second, and took the ferry-boat to get to St. Martin, 
which was on the other side of the river, for she had 
to deliver the greater part of her work in Chateaneuf 
and other places. About midsummer day, seven years 
before marrying old Taschereau she had just reached 
the right age to be loved. Although there used to come 
to the bench under her window the son of Rabelais, 
who had seven boats on the Loire, Jehan's eldest, 
Marchandeau the tailor, and Peccard the ecclestiastlcal 
goldsmith, she made fun of them all, because she 
wished to be taken to church before burthening herself 
with a man, which proves that she was an honest 
woman until she was wheedled out of her virtue. 

A young noble of the court perceived her one day 
when she was crossing the water in the glare of the 
noonday sun, and, seeing her, asked who she was. An 


old man, who was working on the banks, told him she 
was called the Pretty Maid of Portillon, a laundress 
celebrated for her merry ways and her virtue. This 
young lord, besides ruffles to starch, had many precious 
linen draperies and things ; he resolved to give the 
custom of his house to this girl^ whom he stopped on 
the road. He was thanked by her, and heartily, 
because he was the Sire du Fou, the king's chamber- 
lain. This encounter made her so joyful that her mouth 
was full of his name. She talked about it a great deal 
to the people of St. Martin, and when she got back to 
her wash-house was still full of it, and on the morrow 
at her work her tongue went nineteen to the dozen so 
that as much was said concerning my lord du Fou in 
Portillon as of God in a sermon. 

"If she works like that in cold weather, what will she 
do in warm?" said an old washerwoman. " She wants 
du Fou, he'll give her du Fou !" 

The first time this giddy wench, with her head full 
of Monsieur du Fou, had to deliver the linen at his 
hotel, the chamberlain wished to see her, and was very 
profuse in praises and compliments concerning her 
charms, and wound up by telling her that he would 
give her more than she expected. The deed followed 
the word for he began to caress the maid, who thinking 
he was about to take out the money from his purse, 
dared not look at the purse, but said like a girl ashamed 
to take her wages, "It will be for the first time." 

"It will be soon," said he. 

Some people say that he had great difficulty in forc- 
ing her to accept the gift, others that he forced her to 
accept it, because she left him and went direct to the 
judge. It happened that the judge was out. Finally 
he came in, saw the wench, and wished to kiss her, 


but she put herself on guard, and said she had come 
to make a complaint. The judge replied that certainly 
she could have the offender hanged if she liked, because 
he was most anxious to serve her. The injured maiden 
replied that she did not wish the death of her man, 
but that he should pay her a thousand gold crowns, 
because she had been robbed against her will. 

"Ha! ha!" said the judge, "what he stole was worth 
more than that. " 

"For the thousand crowns IT1 cry quits, because I 
shall be able to live without washing." 

"He who has robbed you, is he well off?" 

"Oh, yes." 

"Then he shall pay dearly for it. Who is it ?" 

"Monseigneur du Fou. " 

"Oh, that alters the case," said the judge. 

"But justice?" said she. 

"I said the case, not the justice of it," replied the 
judge, "I must know how the affair occurred." 

Then the girl related naively how she was arranging 
the young lord's ruffles in his wardrobe, when he began 
to meddle with her skirts, and she turned round, 
saying : 

"Go on with you!" 

"You have no case," said the judge, "for by that 
speech he thought that you gave him leave to go on. 
Ha! ha!" 

Finally, La Portillone declared that against her will 
she had been taken round the waist and held, although 
she had kicked and cried and struggled, but that seeing 
no help at hand, she had lost courage. 

"My dear, " said the judge, "I cannot receive your 
complaint, because I believe no girl can be thus treated 
against her will." 


"Hi! hi! hi! Ask your servant," said the little 
laundress sobbing, "and hear what she'll tell you." 

The servant affirmed that if La Portillone had 
received neither amusement nor money, either one or 
the other was due to her. This wise counsel threw the 
judge into a state of great perplexity, 

"Jacqueline," said he, "before I sup Pll get to the 
bottom of this. Now go and fetch my needle and 
the red thread that I sew the law paper bags with. " 

Jacqueline came back with a big needle, and a big red 
thread, such as judges use. 

"My dear," said the judge, "I am going to hold the 
bodkin, of which the eye is sufficiently large to put 
this thread into without trouble. If you do put it in, 
I will take up your case, and will make monseigneur 
offer you a compromise." 

"A compromise is then agreeable with justice?" said 
La Portillone. 

"My dear, this violence has also opened your mind. 
Are you ready?" 

"Yes," said she. 

The waggish judge gave the poor nymph fair play, 
holding the eye steady for her; but when she wished 
to slip in the thread that she had twisted to, make 
straight, he moved a little and the thread went on the 
other side. She suspected the judge's argument, wetted 
the thread, stretched it, and came back again. The 
judge moved, twisted about, and wriggled like a bashful 
maiden ; still the cursed thread would not enter. The 
girl kept trying at the eye, and the judge kept fidgeting. 

"If you don't keep still," cried she, losing patience, 
"if you keep moving about I shall never be able to put 
the thread in." 


"Tlien, my dear, if you had done the same, monseig- 
neur would have been unsuccessful too." 

The pretty wench remained thoughtful, and sought 
to find a means to convince the judge by showing how 
she had been compelled to yield, since the honor of all 
poor girls liable to violence was at stake. 

"Monseigneur, in order that my bet may be fair, I 
must do exactly as the young lord did. If I had only 
had to move I should be moving still, but he went 
through other performances. " 

"Let us hear them," replied the judge. 

Then La Portillone straightens the thread, looks 
towards the eye of the bodkin, held by the judge, 
slipping always to the right or left. Then she began 
making endearing little speeches, such as, "Ah, the 
pretty little bodkin ! Never did I see such a little jewel ! 
What a pretty little eye ! Come, my love of a judge, 
judge of my love!" She kept the poor judge with the 
case in his hand until seven o'clock, keeping on fidget- 
ing and moving about like a schoolboy let loose ; but as 
La Portillone kept on trying to put the thread in, he 
could not help it. As, however, his joint was burning 
and his wrist was tired, he was obliged to rest himself 
for a minute then very dexterously the fair maid of Por- 
tillone threaded the needle, saying : 

''That's how the thing occurred." 

"But I was tired out." 

"So was I," said she. 

The judge, convinced, told La Portillone that he 
would speak to Monseigneur du Fou, and would him- 
self carry the affair through, since it was certain the young 
lord had embraced her against her will, but that for 
valid reasons he would keep the affair dark. On the 
morrow the judge went to the court and saw Monseig- 


neur du Fou, to whom he recounted the young woman's 
complaint, and how she had set forth her case. This 
complaint, lodged in court, tickled the king immensely. 
The king declared the girl was quite worth a hundred 
gold crowns, and the chamberlain gave them to the 
judge, and said that starch would be a good income to 
La Portillone. The judge came back to La Portillone, 
and said, smiling, that he had raised a hundred gold 
crowns for her. But if she desired the balance of the 
thousand, there were in the king's apartment certain 
lords who, knowing the case, had offered to make up 
the sum for her, with her consent. The little hussy, 
did not refuse this offer, saying, that in order to do no 
more washing in the future she did not mind doing a 
little hard work now. She gratefully acknowledged 
the trouble the good judge had taken, and gained her 
thousand crowns in a month. It is true that the king 
caused her to be sent for to his retreat of the Rue 
Quinquangrogne, on the mall of Chardonneret, found 
her extremely pretty, enjoyed her society, and forbade 
the sergeants to interfere with her in any way whatever. 
When the good man came who confessed the king in 
his last hours, La Portillone went to him to polish up 
her conscience, did penance, and founded a bed in the 
leper-house of St. Lazare-les-Tours. Many ladies 
whom you know have been assaulted by more than two 
lords, and have founded no other beds than those of 
their own houses. It is well to relate this fact, in 
order to cleanse the reputation of this honest girl, who 
herself once washed dirty things, and who afterwards 
became famous for her clever tricks and her wit. She 
gave a proof of her merit in marrying Taschereau, 
whom she cuckolded right merrily. This proves to us 
most satisfactorily that with strength and patience 
justice itself can be violated. 


During the time when knights courteously offered 
to each other both help and assistance in seeking their 
fortunes, it happened that in Sicily, one knight met in * 
a wood another knight, who had the appearance of a 
Frenchman. Presumably this Frenchman was by 
some chance stripped of everything, and was so 
wretchedly attired that but for his princely air he might 
have been taken for a blackguard. The Sicilian knight 
whose name was Pezare, being short of funds in Venice, 
was for that reason eventually abandoned by his family, 
a most illustrious one. He therefore remained at this 
court, where he was much liked by the king. This 
gentleman was riding a splendid Spanish horse, and 
thinking to himself how lonely he was in this strange 
court, and how in such cases fortune was harsh to 
helpless people and became a traitress when he met 
the poor French knight, who appeared far worse off 
than he who had good weapons, a fine horse, and a 
mansion where servants were then preparing a sump- 
tuous supper. 

"You must have come a long way to have so much 
dust on your feet/' said the Venetian. 


"My feet have not as much dust as the road was 
long," answered the Frenchman. 

"If you have travelled so much," continued the 
Venitian, ''you must be a learned man." 

"I have learned," replied the Frenchman, "to give 
no heed to those who do not trouble about me. I 
have learned that however high a man's head was, his 
feet were always level with mine. " 

"You are, then, richer than I am, " said the Venetian, 
astonished, "since you tell me things of which I never 
thought. M 

"Every one must think for himself," said the French- 
man j "and as you have interrogated me, I can request 
from you the kindness of pointing to me the road to 
Palermo or some inn, for the night is closing in." 

"I am lost like yourself," said the Venetian. "Let 
us look for it in company." 

"To do that we must go together; but you are on 
horseback, I am on foot." 

The Venetian took the French knight on his saddle 
behind him, and said : 

"Do you know with whom you are?" 

"With a man, apparently. " 

"Do you think you are in safety?" 

"If you were a robber, you would have to take care of 
yourself," said the Frenchman, putting the point of 
his dagger to the Venetian's heart. 

"Well, now, my noble Frenchman, you appear to me 
a man of great learning and sound sense ; know that 
I am a noble, established at the court of Sicily, but 
alone, and I seek a friend. You seem to be in the 
same plight, and, judging from appearances you do not 
seem friendly with your lot, and have, apparently, 
need of everybody." 


"Should I be happier if everybody wanted me?" 

"You are a devil who turn every one of my words 
against me. By St. Mark ! my lord knight, can one 
trust you?" 

"More than yourself, who commenced our federal 
friendship by deceiving me, since you guide your horse 
like a man who knows his way, and you said you were 

"And did you not deceive me, " said the ., Venetian, 
"by making a sage of your year's walk, and giving a 
noble knight the appearance of a vagabond? Here is 
my abode; my servants have prepared supper for us." 

The Frenchman jumped off the horse, and entered 
the house with the Venetian cavalier, accepting his 
supper. The Frenchman fought so well with his jaws, 
that he showed himself equally learned in suppers, and 
showed it again in dexterously draining the wine-flasks 
without his eye becoming dimmed or his understanding 
affected. While they were drinking together, the Vene- 
tian endeavored to find some joint through which to 
sound the secret depths of his friend's cogitations. He, 
however, clearly perceived that he would cast aside his 
shirt sooner than his prudence, and judged it opportune 
to gain his esteem by opening his doublet to him. 
Therefore he told him in what state was Sicily, where 
reigned Prince Leufroid and his gentle wife; how 
gallant was the court, what courtesy there flourished ; 
that there abounded many lords of Spain, Italy, France, 
and other countries, lords in a high feather and well 
feathered ; that this prince had the loftiest aspirations — 
such as to conquer Morocco, Constantinople, Jerusalem, 
the lands of Soudan, and other African places. Certain 
men of vast minds conducted his affairs and kept up 
this splendor with the idea of causing to reign over the 


Mediterranean this Sicily, so opulent in times gone by, 
and of ruining Venice, which had not a foot of land. 
These designs had been planted in the king's mind by 
him, Pezare ; but although he was high in that prince's 
favor, he felt himself weak, had no assistance from 
the courtiers, and desired to make a friend. Now, 
since while in this idea he had met a man of so much 
sense as the chevalier had proved himself to be, he pro- 
posed to open his purse to him, to give him his palace 
to live in. Now, as the Frenchman was seeking his 
fortune, and required assistance, the Venetian did not 
for a moment expect that this offer of mutual consola- 
tion would be refused. 

''Although I stand in need of no assistance, " said the 
Frenchman, "because I rely upon a point which will 
procure me all that I desire, I should like to acknowl- 
edge your courtesy, dear Chevalier Pezare. You will 
soon see that you will yet be the debtor of Gauttier 
de Montsoreau, a gentleman of the fair land of 
Touraine. " 

"Do you possess any relic with which your fortune is 
wound up?" said the Venetian. 

"A talisman given me by my dear mother," said the 
Tourainian, "with which castles and cities are built and 
demolished, a hammer to coin money, a remedy for 
every ill, a traveller's staff always ready to be tried, 
and worth most when in a state of readiness, a master- 
tool, which executes wondrous works in all sorts of 
forges. " 

"Eh ! by St. Mark ! you have, then, a mystery con- 
cealed in your hauberk?" 

"No," said the French knight; "it is a perfectly 
natural thing. Here it is." 

And rising suddenly from the table to prepare for 

Droll Stories— 8? 


bed, Gauttier showed the Venetian the finest talisman 
that he had ever seen. 

"This," said the Frenchman, as they both got into 
bed together, according to the custom of the times, 
"overcomes every obstacle, by making itself master of 
female hearts ; and as the ladies are the queens in this 
court, your friend Gauttier will soon reign there." 

The Venetian remained in great astonishment at the 
sight of the secret charms of the said Gauttier, who had 
indeed been bounteously endowed by his mother. Then 
they swore an eternal friendship, vowing to have one 
and the same idea, as if their heads had been in the 
same helmet ; and they Sell asleep on the same pillow 
enchanted with this fraternity. 

On the morrow the Venetian gave a fine horse to his 
friend Gauttier, also a purse full of money, fine silken 
hose, a velvet doublet fringed with gold, and an em- 
broidered mantle, which garments set off his figure so 
well that the Venetian was certain he would captivate 
all the ladies. Then the two friends made their entry 
into Palermo at the hour when the princes and princesses 
were taking the air. Pezare presented his French friend, 
speaking so highly of his merits, and obtaining such a 
gracious reception for him, that Leufroid kept him to 
supper. The knight kept a sharp eye on the court, and 
noticed therein various curious little secret practices. 
If the king was a brave and handsome prince, the 
princess was a Spanish lady of high temperature, the 
most beautiful and most noble woman of his court, 
but inclined to melancholy. Pezare pointed out to his 
friend Gauttier several ladies to whom Leufroid was 
exceedingly gracious, and who were exceedingly 
jealous, and fought for him in a tournament of gallan- 
tries and wonderful female inventions. Perceiving what 


a life Leufroid was leading, the Sire de Montsoreau, 
certain that no one in the court had had the heart to 
enlighten the queen, determined at one blow to plant 
his halberd in the field of the fair Spaniard by a 
master-stroke ; and this is how. At supper-time, in 
order to show courtesy to the foreign knight, the king 
took care to 'place him near the queen, to whom the 
gallant Gauttier offered his arm, to take her into the 
room, and conducted her there hastily, to get ahead of 
those who were following, in order to whisper, first of 
all, a word concerning a subject which always pleases 
the ladies in whatever condition they may be. "I 
know, your majesty, what causes your paleness of 
face. " 

"What?" said she. 

"You are so loving that the king loves you night and 

"You are joking after the French fashion, Sir Knight, 
seeing that the king's devotion to me does not extend 
beyond a short prayer a week. " 

"You are deceived, M said Gauttier, seating himself at 
the table. "I can prove to you that love should go 
through the whole mass, matins, and vespers, with an 
Ave now and then, for queens as for simple women, 
and go through the ceremony every day, like the monks 
in their monastery, with fervor ; but for you these 
litanies should never finish. " 

The queen cast upon the knight a glance which was 
far from one of displeasure, smiled at him and shook 
her head. "In this," said she, "men are great liars." 

"I have with me a great truth which I will show you 
when you wish it," replied the knight. "I undertake 
to give you queen's fare and put you on the high road 
to joy. " 


"And if the king learns our arrangement, he will put 
your head on a level with your feet. " 

"Even if this misfortune befell me after the first time, 
believe I had lived a hundred years, from the joy I should 
therein receive, for never have I seen, after having 
visited all courts, a princess fit to hold a candle to 
your beauty. " 

Now this queen had never heard such words before, 
and preferred them to the most sweetly sung mass ; 
her pleasure showed itself in her face, which became 
purple, for these words made her blood boil within her 
veins, so that the strings of her lute were moved 
thereat, and struck a sweet note that rang melodiously 
in her ears. She conceived an intense disdain for those 
of her court who had kept their lips closed concerning 
this infidelity, through fear of the king, and determined 
to revenge herself with the aid of this handsome French- 
man, who cared so little for life that in his first words 
he had staked it in making a proposition to a queen, 
which was worthy of death, if she did her duty. In- 
stead of this, however, she pressed his foot with her 
own, in a manner that admitted of no misconception, 
and said aloud to him : "Sir Knight, let us change the 
subject, for it is very wrong of you to attack a poor 
queen in her weak spot. Tell us the customs of the 
ladies of the court of France. " 

Thus did the knight receive the delicate hint that 
the business was arranged. Then he commenced to 
talk of merry and pleasant things, which during supper 
kept the court* the king, the queen, and all the courtiers 
in a good humor. Then they strolled about the gardens, 
which were the most beautiful in the world, and the 
queen made a pretext of the chevalier's sayings to walk 


beneath a grove of blossoming orange trees, which 
yielded a delicious fragrance. 

"Lovely and noble queen," said Gauttier, immediately, 
"I have seen in all countries the perdition of love have 
its birth in those first attentions, which we call courtesy ; 
if you have confidence in me let us agree, as people of 
high intelligence, to love each other without standing 
on so much ceremony ; by this means no suspicions 
will be aroused, our happiness will be less dangerous 
and more lasting. 

"Well said," said she. "But as I am new at this 
business, I do not know what arrangements to make. " 

"Have you among your women one in whom you 
have perfect confidence?" 

"Yes," said she; "I have a maid who came from 
Spain with me, who would put herself on a gridiron for 
me, like St. Lawrence did for God, but she is always 
poorly. " 

"That's good," said her companion, "because you go 
to see her. " 

"Yes," said the queen, "and sometimes at night." 

"Ah!" exclaimed Gauttier, "I make a vow to St. 
Rosalie, patroness of Sicily, to build her a golden altar 
for this fortune. " 

"Oh. Jesus!" cried the queen, "I am doubly blessed 
in having a lover so handsome and yet so religious." 

"Ah, my dear, I have two sweethearts to-day, because 
I have a queen to love in heaven above and another 
one here below, and luckily these loves cannot clash 
one with the other." 

This sweet speech so affected the queen, that for a 
nothing she would have fled with this cunning 


"The Virgin Mary is very powerful in heaven/' said 
the queen. "Love grant that I may be like her!" 

"Bah ! they are talking of the Virgin Mary," said the 
king, who by chance had come to watch them, dis- 
turbed b}^ a gleam of jealousy, cast into his heart by a 
Sicilian courtier, who was furious at the sudden favor 
which the Frenchman had obtained. 

The queen and the chevalier laid their plans, and 
everything was secretly arranged to furnish the helmet 
of the king with two invisible ornaments. The knight 
rejoined the court, made himself agreeable to every one 
and returned to the palace of Pezare, whom he told 
that their fortunes were made, because on the morrow, 
at night, he would stay with the queen. This swift 
success astonished the Venetian, who, like a good 
friend, went in search of fine perfumes, and precious 
garments, to which queens are accustomed, with all of 
which he loaded his friend Gauttier, in order that the 
case might be worthy the jewel. 

"Ah, my friend," said he, "are you sure not to falter, 
but to go vigorously to work, to serve the queen 
bravely, and give her such joys in her castle of Gallar- 
din that she may hold on forever to this master staff, 
like a drowning sailor to a plank?" 

"As for that, fear nothing, dear Pezare, oecause I have 
the arrears of the journey, and I will deal with her as 
with a simple servant, instructing her in the ways of the 
ladies of Touraine, who understand love better than all 
others. Now, let us settle our plans. This is how we 
shall obtain the government of this island : I shall hold 
the queen and you the king ; we will play the comedy 
of being great enemies before the eyes of the courtiers, 
in order to divide them into two parties under our com- 
mand. In the course of a few days we will pretend to 


quarrel, in order to strive one against the other. This 
quarrel will be caused by the favor in which I will 
manage to place you with the king, through the channe] 
of the queen, and he will give you supreme power to my 

On the morrow Gauttier went to the house of 
the Spanish lady, whom before the courtiers he recog- 
nized as having known in Spain, and he remained 
there seven whole days. Their supernatural festivi- 
ties touched the queen so strongly that she made 
a vow of eternal love to Montsoreau, who had 
awaked her, by revealing to her the joys of the pro- 
ceeding. It was arranged that the Spanish lady 
should take care always to be ill; and that the only 
man to whom the lovers would confide their secret 
should be the court physician, who was much attached 
to the queen. By chance this physician had in his 
glottis, chords exactly similar to those of Gauttier, so 
that by a freak of nature they had the same voice, 
which much astonished the queen. The physician 
swore on his life faithfully to serve the pretty couple, 
for he deplored the sad desertion of this beautiful 
woman, and was delighted to know she would be 
served as a queen should be — a rare thing. 

A month elapsed and everything was going on to the 
satisfaction of the two friends, who worked the plans 
laid by the queen, in order to get the government of 
Sicily into the hands of Pezare, to the detriment of 
Montsoreau, whom the king loved for his great wisdom ; 
but the queen would not consent to have him, because 
he was so ungallant. Leufroid dismissed the Duke of 
Cataneo, his principal follower,, and put the Chevalier 
Pezare in his place. The Venetian took no notice of 
his friend the Frenchman. Then Gauttier burst out, 


declaiming loudly against the treachery and abused 
friendship of his former comrade, and instantly earned 
the devotion of Cataneo and his friends, with whom he 
made a compact to overthrow Pezare. Directly he was 
in office, he worked wonders in Sicily, repaired the ports, 
brought merchants there by the fertility of his inven- 
tions and by granting them facilities, put bread into 
the mouths of hundreds of poor people, drew thither 
artisans of all trades, because fetes were always being 
held, and also the idle and rich from all quarters, even 
from the east. This fine aspect was the result of the 
perfect agreement of two men who thoroughly under- 
stood each other. The one looked after the pleasures 
and was himself the delight of the queen, whose face 
was always bright and gay because she was served 
according to the method of Touraine, and because 
animated through excessive happiness; and he also 
took care to keep the king amused, finding him every 
day new mistresses, and casting him into a whirl of dis- 
sipation. Thus occupied, the king and the queen aban- 
doned the care of their kingdom to the other friend, 
who conducted the affairs of the government and 
looked to the army, and all exceedingly well, knowing 
where money was to be made, enriching the treasury 
and preparing all the great enterprises above mentioned. 
This state of things lasted three years, some say four, 
but the monks of Saint Benoist have not wormed out 
the date, which remains obscure, like the reasons for 
the quarrel between the two friends. Probably the 
Venetian had the high ambition to reign without any 
control or dispute, and forgot the services which the 
Frenchman had rendered him. Now, relying on the 
perfect friendship of Leufroid, the Venetian conceived 
the idea of getting rid of his friend, by revealing to the 


king the mystery of his cuckoldom, and showing him 
the source of the queen's happiness, not doubting for 
a moment but that he would commence by depriving 
Montsofeau of his head. By this means Pezare would 
have all the money that he and Gauttier had noiselessly 
conveyed to the house of a Lombard of Genes, which 
money was their joint property on account of their 
fraternity. This treasure, increased on one side by the 
magnificent presents made to Montsoreau by the queen, 
who had vast estates in Spain, and other, by inheri- 
tance in Italy; on the other, by the king's gifts to his 
prime minister, to whom he also gave certain rights 
over the merchants, and other indulgences. The 
treacherous friend having determined to break his vow 
took care to conceal his intention from Gauttier, because 
the Tourainian was an awkward man to tackle. One 
night that Pezare knew that the queen was with her 
lover, who loved her still as though each night were 
a wedding one, the traitor promised the king to let him 
take evidence in the case, through a hole which he had 
made in the wardrobe of the Spanish lady, who always 
pretended to be at death's door. In order to obtain a 
better view, Pezare waited until the sun had risen. 
The Spanish lady, who was fleet of foot, had a quick 
eye and a sharp ear, Heard footsteps, peeped out, and 
perceived the king, followed by the Venetian, through 
a crossbar in the closet in which she slept the nights 
that the queen had her lover with her. She ran to 
warn the couple of this betrayal. But the king's eye 
was already at the cursed hole. Leufroid saw — what? 
That beautiful and divine lantern which burns so much 
oil and lights the world. 

At this moment the lady let them understand by a 
gesture that the king was there. 


"Can he see?" said the queen. 

"Yes. " 

"Who brought him?" 

"Pezare. " 

"Fetch the physician, and get Gauttier into his own 
room," said the queen. In Jess time than it takes a 
beggar to say "God bless y;>u, sir!" the queen had 
swathed herself in linen and paint, so that you would 
have thought her in a state of grievous inflammation. 
When the king, enraged by what he overheard, burst 
open the door, he found the queen lying on the bed 
exactly as he had seen her through the hole, and the 
physician -examining her swathed in bandages and 
saying, "How is the little treasure this morning?" in 
exactly the same voice as the king had heard. This 
sight made the king look as foolish as a fox caught in 
a trap. The queen sprang up, reddening with shame, 
and asking what man dared to intrude upon her privacy 
at such a moment, but perceiving the king, she said to 
him as follows : 

"Ah ! my lord, you have discovered that which I have 
endeavored to conceal from you ; that I am so badly 
treated by you that I am afflicted with a burning 
ailment, of which my dignity would not allow me to 
complain, but which needs attendance in order to 
assuage the influence of the vital forces. To save my 
honor and your own, I am compelled to come to my 
good lady Miraflor, who consoles me in my troubles. " 

Then the physician commenced to treat Leufroid to 
an oration, in which he showed him how necessary to 
woman was the proper cultivation of the field of Venus. 
He delivered himself of his arguments with great 
solemnity in order to give the Sire de Montsoreau time 
to get to bed. Then the queen took the same text to 


preach the king a sermon as long as his arm, and 
requested the loan of that limb, that the king might 
conduct her to her own apartment instead of the poor 
invalid, who usually did so in order to avoid calumny. 
When they were in the gallery where the Sire de Mont- 
soreau resided, the queen said jokingly, "You should 
play a good trick on this Frenchman, who I would 
wager is with some lady, and not in his own room. 
All the ladies of the court are in love with him, and 
there will be mischief some day through him. M 

Leufroid went suddenly into Gauttier's room, whom 
he found in a deep sleep, and snoring like a monk in 
church. The queen returned with the king, whom she 
took to her apartments, and whispered to one of the 
guards to send to her the lord whose place Pezare occu- 
pied. Then while she fondled the king, taking breakfast 
with him, she took the lord directly he came, into an 
adjoining room. 

"Erect a gallows on the bastion," said she, "then 
seize the knight Pezare, and manage so that he is 
hanged instantly, without giving time to write or say 
a single word on any subject whatsoever." 

Cataneo made no remark. While Pezare was think- 
ing to himself that his friend Gauttier would soon be 
minus his head, the Duke Cataneo came to seize and 
lead him on to the bastion, from which he could see 
at the queen's window the Sire de Montsoreau in com- 
pany with the king, the queen, and the courtiers, and 
came to the conclusion that he who looked after the 
queen had a better chance in everything than he who 
looked after the king. 

"My dear," said the queen to her spouse, leading him 
to the window, "behold a traitor, who was endeavoring 
to deprive you of that which you hold dearest in the 


world, and I will give you the proofs when you have 
the leisure to study them." 

Montsoreau, seeing the preparations for the final cere- 
mony, threw himself at the king's feet, to obtain the 
pardon of him who was his mortal enemy, at which 
the king was much moved. 

"Sire de Montsoreau," said the queen, turning 
towards him with an angry look, "are you so bold as to 
oppose our will and pleasure?" 

"You are a noble knight, " said the king, "but you do 
not know how bitter this Venetian was against you." 

Pezare was delicately strangled between the head 
and the shoulders, for the queen revealed his treacheries 
to the king, proving to him, by the declaration of a 
Lombard of the town, the enormous sums which Pezare 
had in the bank of Genes, the whole of which were 
given up to Montsoreau. 

This noble and lovely queen died, as related in the 
history of Sicily, that is, in consequence of a heavy 
labor, during which she gave birth to a son, who was 
a man as great in himself as he was unfortunate in his 
undertakings. The king believed the physician's state- 
ment, and believing himself responsible for it, he 
founded the Church of the Madonna, which is one of 
the finest in the town of Palermo. The good knight 
came back to Touraine laden with wealth, and lived 
there many years, but never mentioned his adventures 
in Sicily. He returned there to aid the king's son in 
his principal attempt against Naples, and left Italy 
when this sweet prince was wounded, as is related in 
the Chronicle. 

Besides the high moralities contained in the title of 
this tale, where it is said that fortune, being female, 
is always on the side of the ladies, and that men are 



quite right to serve them well, it shows us that silence 
is the better part of wisdom. Nevertheless the monkish 
author of this narrative seems to draw this other no 
less learned moral therefrom, that interest which makes 
so many friendships, breaks them also. But from these 
three versions you can choose the one that best accords 
with your judgment and your momentary requirement. 

i ^^M^^^f**^^ 





tjr "y^jKr v * 






J-'-j- -^^ ^ 







The old chronicler who furnished the hemp to weave 
the present story, is said to have lived at the time when 
the affair occurred in the city of t Rouen. In the environs 
of this fair town, where at that time dwelt Duke Richard, 
an old man used to beg, whose name was Tryballot, but 
to whom was given the nickname of Old Man of the 
Roads; because he was always in the high-ways and the 
by-ways, slept with the sky for his counterpane, and went 
about in rags and tatters. Notwithstanding this, he was 
very popular in the duchy, where every one had grown 
used to him, so much so that if the month went by with- 
out any one seeing his cup held towards them, people 
would say, "Where is the old man?" and the usual 
answer was, "On the roads." 

This said man had had for a father a Tryballot, who 
was in his lifetime a skilled artisan, so economical and 
careful, that he left considerable wealth to his son. 
But the young lad soon^ttered it away, for he was the 
very opposite of the old fellow, who, returning from the 
fields to his house, picked up, now here, now there, 
many a little stick of wood left right and left, saying 


conscientiously, that one should never come home empty 
handed. Thus he warmed himself in winter at the ex- 
pense of the careless; and he did well. Every one rec- 
ognized what a good example this was for the country, 
since a year before his death no one left a morsel of wood 
on the road; he had compelled the most dissipated to be 
thrifty and orderly. But his son made ducks and drakes 
of everything, and did not follow his wise examples. 
The father had predicted the thing. From the boy's 
earliest youth, when the good Tryballot set him to watch 
the birds who came to eat the peas, the beans and the 
grain, and to drive the thieves away, above all, the jays, 
who spoiled everything, he would study their habits, and 
took delight in watching with what grace they came and 
went, flew off loaded and returned, watching with a quick 
eye the snares and nets; and he would laugh heartily at 
their cleverness in avoiding them. T^ballot senior 
went into a passion when he found his grain consid- 
erably less in measure. But although he pulled his son's 
ears whenever he caught him idling and trifling under a 
nut tree, the little rascal did not alter his conduct, but 
continued to study the habits of the blackbirds, spar- 
rows and other intelligent marauders. One day his 
father told him that he would be wise to model himself 
after them, for that if he continued this kind of life, he 
would be compelled in his old age, like them, to pil- 
fer, and, like them, would be pursued by justice. 
This came true; for, as has before been stated, he dissi- 
pated in a few days the crowns which his careful father 
had acquired in a lifetime. He dealt with, men as he 
did with the sparrows, letting every one put a hand in his 
pocket, and contemplating the grace and polite de- 
meanor of those who assisted to empty it. The end 
of his wealth was thus soon reached. When the devii 


had the empty money bag to himself, Tryballot did 
not appear at all cut up, saying, that he " did not wish to 
damn himself for this world's goods, and that he had 
studied philosophy in the school of the birds." 

After having thoroughly enjoyed himself, of all his 
goods there only remained to him a goblet bought at 
Landict, and three dice, quite sufficient furniture for 
drinking and gambling, so that he went about without 
being encumbered, as are the great, w T ith chariots, car- 
pets, dripping-pans and an infinite number of varlets. 
Tryballot wished to see his good friends, but they no 
longer knew him, which fact gave him leave no longer 
to recognize any one. Seeing this he determined to 
choose a profession in which there was nothing to do 
and plenty to gain. Thinking this over he remembered 
the indulgences of the blackbirds and the sparrows. 
Then the good Tryballot selected for his profession 
that of begging money at people's houses, and pilfer- 
ing. He went about it so heartily that he was liked 
everywhere, and received a thousand consolations re- 
fused to rich people. He who had a pig in his larder owed 
him a bit of it, without suspecting it. The man who 
baked a loaf in his oven often cooked it for Tryballot 
without knowing it. 

Vieux-par-Chemins was at all the weddings, baptisms 
and funerals, because he went everywhere where there 
was, openly or secretly, merriment and feasting.* After 
having refreshed himself, this wise man would lay at full 
length in a ditch, or against a church wall, and think over 
public affairs; and then he would philosophise, like his 
pretty tutors, the blackbirds, jays and sparrows, and 
thought a good deal while mumping; for because his ap- 
parel was poor, was that a reason his understanding 
should not be rich ? There were aching heads beneath 


diadems, but his never ached, because it was touched 
neither by luxury nor any other chaplet. Although he 
covered himself with sores, after the manner of cadgers, 
you may be sure he was as sound as a child at the bap- 
tismal font. The good man disported himself with other 
rogues, playing with his three dice, which he kept to 
remind him to spend his coppers, in order that he might 
always be poor. At last Vieux par-Chemins reached the 
age of eighty-two years, having never been a single day 
without picking up money, and possessed the healthiest 
color and complexion imaginable. He believed that if 
he had persevered in the race for wealth he would have 
been spoiled and buried years before. It is possible he 
was right. 

In his early youth Vieux par-Chemins had the illus- 
trious virtue of being very partial to the ladies; and his 
abundance of love was, it is said, the result of his studies 
among the sparrows. Thus it was that he was always 
ready to give the ladies his assistance in counting the 
joists, and this generosity finds its physical cause in the 
fact that having nothing to do, he was always ready to 
do something. His secret virtues brought about, it is 
said, that popularity which he enjoyed in the provinces. 
Advancing in age, this great quintessencer found himself 
disdained, although his notable faculties of loving were 
in no way impaired. This unjust turning away on the 
part of the female tribe caused the first trouble of Vieux 
par-Chemins, and the celebrated trial of Rouen, to which 
it is time I came. 

In this eighty-second year of his age he was compelled 
to remain continent for about seven months, during 
which time he met no woman kindly disposed towards 
him. In this most pitiable state he saw in the fields 
during the merry month of May a girl, who by chance 

Droll Stories~28 


was a maiden, and minding cows. The heat was so 
excessive that this cowherdess had stretched herself 
beneath the shadow of a beech tree, her face to the 
the ground, after the custom of people who labor in the 
fields, in order to get a little nap while her animals were 
grazing. Coming to her the old man commenced a grave 
saying before she awakened. At this she cried out so 
loudly that the people working in the fields ran to her, 
and were called upon by her as witnesses, at the time 
when that destruction was visible in her which is appro- 
priate only to a bridal night. 

He made answer to the peasants, who had already 
raised their hoes to kill him, that he had been com- 
pelled to enjoy himself. These people objected strongly 
and he was taken with great clamor to the gaol at 

This trial caused so great a commotion in the town of 
Rouen that the provost was sent for by the duke, who 
had an intense desire to know if the thing were true. 
Upon the affirmation of the provost, he ordered Vieux 
par-Chemins to be brought to his palace, in order that 
he might hear what defense he had to make. The poor 
old fellow appeared before the prince, and informed him 
naively of the misfortune which his impulsive nature had 
brought upon him, declaring that he was like a young 
fellow impelled by imperious desires; that up to the 
present year he had sweethearts of his own, but for 
the last eight months he had been a total abstainer. He 
said he felt compelled to avail himself of the chance 
when he saw this maiden, who stretched at full length 
under the beech tree, left visible the lining of her dress 
which had deprived him of reason. Finally the prince 
ought to be aware what trouble a man has to control him- 
self at the hour of noon, because that was the time of 


day at which King David was smitten with the wife of 
the Sieur Uriah; that where a Hebrew king, beloved of 
God, had succumbed, a poor man, deprived of all joy 
and reduced to begging his bread, could not expect to 
escape; that for the matter of that, he was quite willing 
to sing psalms for the remainder of his days, and play 
upon the lute by way of penance, in imitation of the said 
king, who had had the misfortune to slay a husband, 
while he had only done a trifling injury to a peasant girl. 
The duke listened to the arguments of Vieux par- 
Chemins, and said that he was a man of good parts. 
Then he made this memorable decree, that if, as this 
beggar declared, he had need of such gratifications at 
his age he gave him permission to prove it at the foot of 
the ladder which he would have to mount to be hanged, 
according to the sentence already passed on him by the 
provost; that if then, the rope being round his neck, 
between the priest and the hangman, a like desire seized 
him he should have a free pardon. 

This decree becoming known, there was a tremendous 
crowd to see the old fellow led to the gallows. There 
was a line drawn up as if for a ducal entry, and in it a 
many more bonnets than hats. Vieux par-Chemins was 
saved by a lady curious to see how this precious violater 
would finish his career. She told the duke that religion 
demanded that he should have a fair chance. This noble 
lady, who was one of those who rouses one's manhood, 
had a smile on her lips ready for the old fellow. Vieux 
par-Chemins, dressed in garments of coarse cloth, more 
certain of being in the desired state after hanging than 
before it, came along between the officers of justice with 
a sad countenance, glancing now here and there, and 
seeing nothing but head-dresses; and he would, he de- 
clared, have given a hundred crowns for a girl tucked up 


as was the cowherdess, whose charms, though they ha^ 
been his ruin, he still remembered, and they might still 
have saved him; but, as he was old, the remembrance 
was not sufficiently recent. But when, at the foot of the 
ladder he saw the charms of the lady, the sight so much 
excited him that his emotion was patent to the specta- 

"Make haste and see that the required conditions are 
fulfilled," said he to the officers. "I have gained my 
pardon, but I cannot answer for my saviour. '*' 

The lady was well pleased with this homage, which, 
she said, was greater than his offense. The guards, 
whose business it was to proceed to a verification, be- 
lieved the culprit to be the devil, because never in their 
writs had they seen an I so perpendicular as was the old 
man. He was marched in triumph through the town to 
the palace of the duke, to whom the guards and others 
stated the facts. In that period of ignorance, this affair 
was thought so much of that the town voted the erection 
of a column on the spot where the old fellow gained his 
pardon, and he was portrayed thereon in stone in. the at- 
titude he assumed at the sight of that honest and virtu- 
ous lady. The statue was still to be seen when Rouen 
was taken by the English, and the writers of the period 
have included this history among the notable events of 
the reign. 

As the town offered to supply the old man with all he 
required, and see to his sustenance, clothing and amuse- 
ments, the good duke arranged matters by giving the in- 
jured maiden a thousand crowns and marrying her, who 
then lost his name of Vieux par-Chemins. He was 

named by the duke the Sieur de Bonne-C . From 

this marriage came the house of Bonne-C , who, from 

motives modest but wrong, besought our well- beloved 


king Louis Eleventh to grant them letters patent to 
change their name into that of Bonne-Chose. The king 

pointed out to the Sieur de Bonne-C that there was 

in the State of Venice an illustrious family named Coglioni, 

who wore three "C an naturel" on their coat of 

arms. The gentlemen of the House of Bonne-C 

stated to the king that their wives were ashamed to be 
thus called in public assemblies; the king answered that 
they would lose a good deal, because there is a good deal 
in a name. Nevertheless, he granted the letters. After 
that this race was known by this name, and founded 
families in many provinces. The first Sieur de Bonne- 

C lived another twenty-seven years and had another 

son and two daughters. 

From this you can obtain finer lessons and higher 
morals than from any story you will read all your life 
long — of course, excepting these hundred Droll Tales — 
namely, that never could adventure of this sort have hap- 
pened to the impaired and ruined constitutions of court 
rascals, rich people and others who dig their graves with 
their teeth by over-eating and drinking many wines that 
impair the implements of happiness; which said over-fed 
people were lolling luxuriously in costly draperies and 
on feather beds, while the Sieur de Bonne-Chose was 
roughing it. This may incite many of those who read 
this story to change their mode of life, in order to imitate 
Vieux par-Chemins in his old age. 


By the double red crest of my fowl, and by the rose 
lining of my sweetheart's slipper! By all the horns of 
well-beloved cuckolds, and by the virtue of their blessed 
wives! the finest work of man is neither poetry, nor 
painted pictures, nor music, nor car, ties, nor statues be 
they carved never so well, nor rowing, nor sailing gal- 
leys, but children. Understand me, children up to the 
age of ten years, for after that they become men or women, 
and cutting their wisdom teeth, are not worth what they 
cost; the worst are the best. Watch them playing, pret- 
tily and innocently, with slippers; crying after that which 
pleases them, munching the sweets and confectionery 
in the house, nibbling at the stores, and always laughing 
as soon as their teeth are cut, and you will agree with 
me that they are in every way lovable; besides which they 
are flower and fruit — the fruit of love, the flower of 
life. Before their minds have been unsettled by the dis- 
turbances of life, there is nothing in this world more 
blessed or more pleasant than their sayings, which are 
naive beyond description. This is as true as the double 
chewing machine of a cow. Do not expect a man to 
be innocent after the manner of children, because there 
is an, I know not what, ingredient of reason in the 


naivety of a man, while the naivete of children is candid, 
immaculate and has all the finesse of the mother, 
which is plainly proved in this tale. 

Queen Catherine was at that time dauphine, and to 
make herself welcome to the king, her father-in-law, 
who at that time was very ill indeed, presented him, 
from time to time, with Italian pictures, knowing that 
he liked them much, being a friend of the Sieur Raphael 
d'Urbin and of the Sieurs Primatice and Leonardo da 
Vinci, to whom he sent large sums of money. She ob- 
tained from her family a precious picture, painted by a 
Venetian named Titian (artist to the Emperor Charles, 
and in very high favor), in which there were portraits of 
Adam and Eve at the moment when God left them to 
wander about the terrestrial paradise, and were painted 
their full height, in the costume of the period, in which 
it is difficult to make a mistake, because they were at- 
tired in their ignorance, and caparisoned with the divine 
grace which enveloped them — a difficult thing to execute 
on account of the color, but one in which the said Sieur 
Titian excelled. The picture was put into the room of 
the, poor king, who was then ill with the disease of which 
he eventually died. It had a great success at the court 
of France, where every one wished to see it; but no one 
was able to until after the king's death, since at his de- 
sire it was allowed to remain in his room as long as he 

One day Madame Catherine took with her to the king's 
room her son Francis and little Margot, who began to 
talk at random, as children will. Now here, now there, 
these children had heard this picture of Adam and Eve 
spoken about, and had tormented their mother to take 
them there. Since the two little ones at times amused 


the old king, Madame the Dauphine consented to their 

" You wished to see Adam and Eve, who were our 
first parents; there they are," said she. 

Then she left them in great astonishment before Ti- 
tian's picture, and seated herself by the bedside of the 
king, who delighted to watch the children. 

" Which of the two is Adam ?" said Francis, nudging 
his sister Margaret's elbow. 

" You silly ! "' replied she, "to know that, they would 
have to be dressed ! " 

This reply, which delighted the poor king and the 
mother was mentioned in a letter written in Florence by 
Queen Catherine. 

No writer having brought it to light, it will remain, 
like a sweet flower, in a corner of these Tales, although 
it is in no way droll, and there is no other moral to be 
drawn from it except that to hear these pretty speeches 
»f infancy one must beget the children. 






The lovely lady Imperia, who gloriously opens these 
tales, because she was the glory of her time, was com- 
pelled to come into the town of Rome, after the holding 
of the council, for the Cardinal of Ragusa loved her 
more than his cardinal's hat, and wished to have her 
near him. This rascal was so magnificent, that* he 
presented her with the beautiful palace that she had 
in the papal capital. About this time she had the mis- 
fortune to find herself in an interesting condition by 
this cardinal. As every one knows this difficulty fin- 
ished with a fine little daughter, concerning whom the 
pope said jokingly that she should be named Theodora, 
as if to say The gift of God. The girl was thus named, 
and was exquisitely lovely. The cardinal left his inher- 
itance to this Theodora, whom the fair Imperia estab- 
lished in her hotel, for she was flying from Rome as 
from a pernicious place, where she had nearly spoilt 


her beautiful figure, her celebrated perfections, lines 
of the body, curves of the back, and serpentine charms, 
which placed her as much above the other women of 
Christendom as the Holy Father was above all other 
christians. But all her lovers knew that with the assis- 
tance of eleven doctors of Padua, seven master surgeons 
of Pavia, and five surgeons come from all parts, she was 
preserved from all injury. Some go so far as to say 
that she gained therein superfmeness and whiteness 
of skin. 

Every one knows that when she was eighteen years 
of age, the lovely Theodora, to atone for her mother's 
gay life wished to retire into the bosom of the church. 
With this idea she placed herself in the hands of a 
cardinal, in order that he might instruct her in the 
duties of the devout. This wicked shepherd found the 
lamb so magnificently beautiful that he attempted to 
debauch her. Theodora instantly stabbed herself with 
her stiletto, in order not to be contaminated by the 
evil-minded priest. This adventure which was consigned 
to the history of the period, made a great commotion 
in Rome, and was deplored by every one, so much was 
the daughter of Imperia beloved. 

Then this noble courtesan, much afflicted, returned 
to Rome, there to weep for her poor daughter. She 
set out in the thirty-ninth year of her age which was, 
according to some authors, the summer of her magnifi- 
cent beauty, because then she had attained the acme 
of her perfection, like ripe fruit. Sorrow made her 
haughty and hard with those who spoke to her of love, 
in order to dry her tears. The pope himself visited 
her in her palace, and gave her certain words of 
admonition. But she refused to be comforted, saying 
that she would henceforward devote herself to God, 


because she had never yet been satisfied by any man, 
although she had ardently desired it; and all of them, 
even a little priest, whom she had adored like a saint's 
shrine, had deceived her. God, she was sure would 
not do so. This resolution disconcerted many, for she 
was the joy of a vast number of lords. The Emperor 
of the Romans was much cut up about it, because he 
loved her to distraction for eleven weeks ; had left her 
only to go to the wars, and loved her still as much as 
his most precious member, which according to his own 
statement, was his eye, for that alone embraced the 
whole of his dear Imperia. In this extremity the pope 
sent for a Spanish physician, and conducted him to the 
beautiful creature, to whom he proved, by various 
arguments, adorned with Latin and Greek quotations, 
that beauty is impaired by tears and tribulations, and 
that through sorrow's door wrinkles step in. This prop- 
osition, confirmed by the doctors of the Holy College 
in controversy, had the effect of opening the doors of 
the palace that same evening. The young cardinals, 
the foreign envoys, the wealthy inhabitants, and the 
principal men of the town of Rome came, crowded the 
rooms, and held a joyous festival ; the common people 
made grand illuminations, and thus the whole popula- 
tion celebrated the return of the Queen of Pleasure to 
her occupation, for she was at that time the presiding 
deity of love. The experts in all the arts loved her 
much, because she spent considerable sums of money 
in improving the church in Rome which contained poor 
Theodora's tomb, the which was destroyed during the 
pillage of Rome in which perished the traitorous con- 
stable of Bourbon, for this holy maiden was placed 
therein in a massive coffin of gold and silver, which 
the cursed soldiers were anxious to obtain. This 


basilic cost, it is- said, more than the pyramid erected by 
the Lady Rhodepa, an Egyptian courtesan, eighteen 
hundred years before the coming of our divine Saviour. 

Never had Madame Imperia appeared so lovely as at 
this first gala after her mourning. All the princes, 
cardinals and others declared that she was worthy the 
homage of the whole world, which was there represen- 
ted by a noble from every known land, and thus it was 
amply demonstrated that beauty was in every place 
queen of everything. The envoy of the king of France, 
who was a cadet of the house of LTle Adam, arrived 
late, although he had never yet seen Imperia, and was 
most anxious to do so. He was a handsome young 
knight, much in favor with his sovereign. To this 
penniless cadet the king had given certain missions to 
the duchy of Milan, of which he had acquitted himself 
so well that he was sent to Rome to advance the nego- 
tiations concerning which historians have written so 
much in their books. Now if he had nothing of his 
own, poor little LTle Adam relied upon so good a 
beginning. Directly this gentleman joined her circle, 
and her eyes had rested upon him, Madame Imperia 
felt herself bitten by a strong desire, which stretched 
the harp strings of her nature, and produced therefrom 
a sound she had not heard for many a day. She was 
seized with such a vertigo of true love at the sight of 
this freshness of youth, that but for her imperial 
dignity she would have kissed the good cheeks which 
shone like little apples. 

You may be sure that a lover was often compelled to 
part with a nice little heap of crowns in order to pass 
the day with her, and was reduced to desperation by 
a refusal. Now for her it was a joyful thing *to ted a 
youthful desire, like that she had for the little priest, 


whose story commences this collection ; but oecause 
she was older than in those merry days, love was more 
firmly established in her, and she soon perceived that 
it was of a fiery nature when it began to make itself felt. 
When he came and bowed to her, she threw back her 
head, and assumed a most dignified attitude, as do 
those who have a love infatuation in their hearts. The 
gravity of her demeanor to the young ambassador 
caused many to think that she had work in store for 
him ; equivocating on the word, after the custom of 
the time. LTle Adam, knowing himself to be dearly 
loved by his mistress, troubled himself but little about 
Madame Imperia, grave or gay, and frisked about like a 
goat let loose. The courtesan, terribly annoyed at this, 
changed her tone, from being sulky became gay and 
lively, came to him, softened her voice, sharpened her 
glance, gracefully inclined her head, rubbed against 
him with her sleeve, and called him monseigneur, 
embraced him with loving words, trifled with his hand, 
and finished by smiling at him most affably. He, not 
imagining that so unprofitable a lover would suit her, 
for he was as poor as a church mouse, and did not know 
that his beauty was equal in her eyes to all the treas- 
ures of the world, was not taken in her trap, but con- 
tinued to ride the high horse with his hands on his 
hips. This disdain of her passion irritated madame to 
the heart, which by this spark was set in flame. If you 
doubt this, it is because you know nothing of the pro- 
fession of Madame Imperia, who by reason of it might 
be compared to a chimney, in which a great number of 
fires had been lighted, which had filled it with soot. 
The cadet of L'lle Adam left the room without noticing 
this ardor. Madame, disconsolate at his departure, 
lost her senses from her head to her feet, and so 


thoroughly that she sent a messenger to him in the 
galleries begging him to pass the time with her. On no 
other occasion of his life had she had this cowardice, either 
for king, pope or emperor, since the high price of her 
favors came from the bondage in which she held her 
admirers, whom the more she humbled the more she 
raised herself. The disdainful hero of this history was 
informed by the head chamber-woman/who was a clever 
jade, that in all probability a great treat awaited him, 
for most certainly madame would regale him with her 
most delicate inventions of love. L'lle Adam returned 
to the salons, delighted at this lucky chance. Directly 
the envoy of France reappeared, as every one had seen 
Imperia turn pale at his departure, the general joy 
knew no bounds, because every one was delighted to 
see her return to her old life of love. An English 
cardinal, who had drained more than one big-bellied 
flagon, and wished to taste Imperia, went to L'lle Adam 
and whispered to him, "Hold her fast, so that she shall 
never again escape us. " 

The lights of the palace being extinguished, the 
golden flagons on the floor, and the servants drunk and 
stretched about on the carpets, madame entered her 
bed-chamber, leading by the hand her dear lover-elect : 
and she was well pleased, and has since confessed that 
she could hardly restrain herself from rolling at his feet 
like a beast of the field. Nothing was talked of in 
Rome and Italy but the victory that had been gained 
over Imperia, who had boasted that she would yield to 
no man, and spat upon all of them, even the dukes, 
As to the aforesaid margraves and burgraves, she gave 
them the tail of her dress to hold and said that if she did 
not tread them underfoot, they would trample upon 
her. Madame confessed to her servants that, differ- 

The Author of " The Human Comedy.' 


ently to all other men she had had to put up with, the 
more she fondled this child of love, the more she 
desired to do so and that she would never be able to 
part with him nor his splendid eyes, which blinded her. 
These expressions becoming known, made every one 
very miserable. Directly she went out, Imperia told the 
ladies of Rome that she should die if she were deserted 
by this gentleman, and would cause herself like Queen 
Cleopatra, to be bitten by an asp. She declared openly 
that she had hidden an eternal adieu to her former gay 
life, and would show the whole world what virtue was 
by abandoning her empire for this Villiers de lTle 
Adam, whose servant she would rather be than reign 
over Christendom. The English cardinal remonstrated 
with the pope that this love for one, in the heart of a 
woman who was the joy of all, was an infamous deprav- 
ity, and that he ought to annul this marriage, which 
robbed the fashionable world of its principal attraction. 
But the love of this poor Woman, who had confessed 
the miseries of her life, was so sweet a thing, and so 
moved the most dissipated heart, that she silenced all 
clamor, and every one forgave her her happiness. One 
day during Lent, Imperia made her people fast, and or- 
dered them to go and confess and return to God. She her- 
self went and fell at the pope's feet, and there showed such 
penitence, that she obtained from him remission of all her 
sins, believing that the absolution of the pope would com- 
municate to her soul that virginity which she was 
grieved at being unable to offer to her lover. It is 
impossible to help thinking that there was some virtue 
in the ecclesiastical piscina for the poor cadet was so 
smothered with love that he fancied himself in paradise, 
and left the negotiations of the king of France, left his 
love for Mademoiselle de Montmorency — in fact, left 


everything to marry Madame Imperia, in order that he 
might live and die with her. Such was the effect of the 
learned ways of this great lady of pleasure, directly she 
turned her science to the profit of a virtuous love. 
Imperia bade adieu to her admirers at a royal feast, 
given in honor of her wedding, which was a wonderful 
ceremony, at which all the Italian princes were present. 
She had, it is said, a million gold crowns ; in spite of 
the vastness of this sum, every one, far from blaming 
LTle Adam, paid him many compliments, because it 
was evident that neither Madame Imperia nor her young 
husband thought of anything but one. The pope 
blessed their marriage, and said that it was a fine thing 
to see the foolish virgin returning to God by the road 
of marriage. 

But during that last night in which it would be per- 
missible for all to behold the Queen of Beauty who was 
about to become a simple chatelaine of the kingdom of 
France, there were a great number of men who mourned 
for the merry nights, the suppers, the masked balls, 
the joyous games and the melting hours, when each 
one emptied his heart to her. Every one regretted the 
ease and freedom which had always been found in the 
residence of this lovely creature, who now appeared 
more tempting than she had ever done in her life, for her 
great love made her glisten like a summer sun. Much 
did they lament the fact that she had had the sad 
phantasy to become a respectable woman. To these 
Madame de Pile Adam answered jestingly, that after 
twenty-four years passed in the service of the public, 
she had a right to retire. Others said to her, that 
however distant the sun was, people could warm them- 
selves in it, while she would show herself no more. To 
these she replied that she would still have smiles to 


bestow upon those lords who would come and see how 
she played the role of a virtuous woman. 

To this the English envoy answered, he believed her 
capable of pushing virtue to its extreme point. She 
gave a present to each of her friends and large sums 
to the poor and suffering of Rome; besides this, she 
left to the convent where her daughter was to have 
been, and to the church she had built, the wealth she 
had inherited from Theodora, which came from the 
Cardinal of Ragusa. 

When the two spouses set out they were accompan- 
ied a long way by knights in mourning, and even by 
the common people, who wished them every happiness 
because Madame Imperia had been hard on the rich 
only, and had always been kind and gentle to the poor. 
This lovely queen. of love was hailed with acclamations 
throughout the journey in all the towns of Italy where the 
report of her conversion had spread, and where every 
one was curious to see pass, a case so rare as two such 
spouses. Several princes received this handsome 
couple at their courts, saying that it was but right to 
show honor to this woman who had the courage to 
renounce her empire over the world of fashion to 
become a virtuous woman. But there was an evil- 
minded fellow, one my lord Duke of Ferrara, who said 
to L'lle Adam that his great fortune had not cost him 
much. At this first offense Madame Imperia showed 
what a good heart she had, for she gave up all the 
money she had received from her lovers to ornament 
the dome of St. Maria del Fiore, in the town of 
Florence which turned the laugh against the Sire d'Este, 
who boasted that he had built a church in spite of the 
empty condition of his purse. You may be sure he 
was reprimanded for this joke by his brother the- 

Proll Stories— 89 


cardinal. The fair Imperia only kept her own wealth 
and that which the emperor had bestowed upon her 
out of pure friendship since his departure, the amount 
of which was, however, considerable. The cadet of 
ITle Adam had a duel with the duke, in which he 
wounded him. Thus neither Madame de Pile Adam 
nor her husband could be in any way reproached. This 
piece of chivalry caused her to be gloriously received 
in all places she passed through, especially in Piedmont, 
where the fetes were splendid. 

The prize in this tourney of fetes and gallantry must 
be awarded to the good Emperor of the Romans, who, 
knowing of the misbehavior of the Duke of Ferrara, 
despatched an envoy to his old flame, charged with 
Latin manuscripts, in which he told her that he loved 
her so much for herself, that he was delighted to know 
she was happy, but grieved that all her happiness was 
not derived from him ; that he had lost the right to 
make her presents, but that if the king of France 
received her coldly, he would think it an honor to 
acquire a Villiers to the holy empire, and would give 
him such principalities as he might choose from his 
domains. The fair Imperia replied that she was ex- 
tremely obliged to the Emperor, but that had she to 
suffer contumely upon contumely in France, she still 
intended there to finish her days. 



Not knowing if she would be received or not, the lady 
of File Adam would not go to court, but lived in the 
country., where her husband made a fine establishment, 


purchasing the manor of Beaumont-le-Vicomte, which 
gave rise to the equivoke upon this name, made by our 
well-beloved Rabelais, in his most magnificent book. 
He acquired also the domain of Nointel, the forest of 
Carenelle, St. Martin and other places in the neighbor- 
hood of Tile Adam, where his brother Villiers resided. 
These said acquisitions made him the most powerful lord 
in the He de France and county of Paris. He built a 
wonderful castle near Beaumont, which was afterwards 
ruined by the English, and adorned it with the furniture, 
foreign tapestries, chests, pictures, statues and curiosi- 
ties of his wife. The happy pair led a life so envied by all, 
that nothing was talked about in Paris arid at court but 
this marriage, the good fortune of the Sire de Beaumont, 
and, above all, of the perfect, loyal, gracious and relig- 
ious life of his wife, who was no longer proud and sharp 
as steel, but had the virtues and qualities of a respectable 
woman, and was an example in many things to a queen. 
The praises sung in honor of this lady had such an effect 
that the king came to Beauvoisis to gaze upon this won- 
der, and did the sire the honor to sleep at Beaumont, 
remained there three days, and had a royal hunt there 
with the queen and the whole court. You may be sure 
that he was surprised, as were also the queen, the ladies 
and the court, at the manners of this superb creature, 
who was proclaimed lady of courtesy and beauty. The 
modesty of the chatelaine did more than pride would have 
accomplished; for she was invited to court and every- 
where, so imperious was her great heart, so tyrannic her 
violent love for her husband. You may be sure that her 
charms, hidden under the garments of virtue, were none 
the less exquisite. Tho king gave the vacant post of 
lieutenant of the lie de France and provost of Paris to 
his ancient ambassador, giving him the title of Viscount 


of Beaumont, which established him as governor of the 
whole province, and put him on an excellent footing at 
court. But this was the cause of a great wound in 
madame's heart, because a wretch, jealous of this 
unclouded happiness, asked her, playfully, if Beaumont 
had ever spoken to her of his first love, Mademoiselle de 
Montmorency, who at that time was twenty- two years of 
age, as she was sixteen at the time the marriage took 
place in Rome — the which young lady loved LTle Adam 
so much that she remained a maiden, would listen to no 
proposals of marriage, and was dying of a broken heart, 
unable to banish her perfidious lover from her remem- 
brance, and was desirous of entering the convent of 
Chelles. Madame Imperia, during the six years of her 
marriage, had never heard this name, and was sure from 
this fact that she was indeed beloved. You can imagine 
that this time had been passed as a single day, that both 
believed they had only been married the evening before, 
and that each night was as a wedding night, and that if 
business took the knight out of doors, he was quite mel- 
ancholy, being unwilling even to have her out of his 
sight, and she was the same with him. The king, who 
was very partial to the viscount, also made a remark to 
him which stung him to the quick, when he said, "You 
have no children ? " To which. Beaumont replied, with 
the face of a man whose raw place you have touched 
with your finger, " Monseigneur, my brother has; thus 
our line is safe." 

Now it happened that his brother's two children died 
suddenly — one from his horse at a tournament and the 
other from illness. Monsieur V lie Adam the elder was 
so stricken with grief at these two deaths that he expired 
soon after, so much did he love his two sons. By this 
means the manor of Beaumont, the property at Caranelle, 


St. Martin, Nointel and the surrounding domains, were 
re-united to the manor of L' He Adam, and the neighbor- 
ing forests, and the cadet became the head of the house. 
As soon as she saw the lineage of U He Adam destroyed, 
she was anxious to obtain offspring. Now she believed, 
according to the statement of a clever physician whom 
she sent for from Paris, that this barrenness proceeded 
from the fact that both she and her husband allowed 
pleasure to interfere, and by this means engendering was 
prevented. Madame V He Adam did not conceive, and 
fell into a state of great melancholy. Then she began to 
notice how thoughtful had become her husband, L' He 
Adam, whom she watched when he thought she was not 
looking, and who wept that he had no fruit of his great 
love. Soon this pair mingled their tears, for everything 
was common to the two in this fine household, and as 
they never left each other, the thought of the one was 
necessarily the thought of the other. When madame 
beheld a poor person's child she nearly died of grief, and 
it took her a whole day to recover. Seeing this great 
sorrow, L' He Adam ordered all children to be kept out of 
his wife's sight, and said soothing things to her, such as 
that children often turned out badly. He told her that 
their sons might perish, like those of his poor brother; 
to which she replied that she would not let them stir 
further from her petticoats than a hen allows her 
chickens. In fact, she had an answer for everything. 
Madame caused a woman to be sent for who dealt in 
magic, and who was supposed to be learned in these 
mysteries, who told her that she had often seen women 
succeed by studying the manners and customs of animals. 
Madame took the beasts of the field for her preceptors, 
but to no avail. She returned to the physical science of 
the master doctors of Paris, and sent for a celebrated 


Arabian physician, who had just arrived in France with 
a new science. Then this savant, brought up in the 
school of one Sieur Averroes, entered into certain med- 
ical details, but the physical reasons which he assigned 
were so contrary to the teaching of the holy books which 
establish the majesty of man, made in the image of his 
Creator, and were so contrary to the system upheld by 
sound sense and good doctrine, that the doctors of Paris 
laughed them to scorn. The Arabian physician left the 
school where his master, the Sieur Averroes, was unknown. 
The poor afflicted woman wrote then to the pope, who 
loved her much, and told him of her sorrows. The good 
pope replied to her with a gracious homily, written with 
his own hand, in which he told her that when human 
science and things terrestrial failed, we should turn to 
Heaven and implore the grace of God. Then she deter- 
mined to go with naked feet, accompanied by her hus- 
band, to Notre Dame de Liesse, celebrated for her inter- 
vention in similar cases, and made a vow to build a 
magnificent cathedral in gratitude for the child. But 
she bruised and injured her pretty feet, and conceived 
nothing but a violent grief, which was so great that some 
of her lovely tresses fell off and some turned white. At 
last the vapors consequent upon hypochondria were 
brought on and caused her skin to turn yellow She 
was then forty-nine years of age, and lived in her castle 
of L/lle Adam, where she grew as thin as a leper in a 
lazar- house. The poor creature was all the more 
wretched because she had formerly been too free with 
the men, and was now, according to her own disdainful 
remark, only a cauldron to cook chickerlings! "Ha!" 
said she one evening when these thoughts were torment • 
ing her, "In spite of the church, in spite of the king, 
in spite of everything, Madame de Pile Adam is still the 


wicked Imperial " With this idea in her head, she 
wished to die, thinking how good and noble he had been 
to her, and how much she failed in her duty. She hid 
her sorrow in the secret recesses of her heart, and con- 
ceived a devotion worthy her great love. 

About this time the Sieur de Montmorency conquered 
the repulsion his daughter entertained for marriage, and 
her alliance with one Sieur de Chatillon was much talked 
about. Madame Imperia, who lived only three leagues 
distant from Montmorency, one day sent her husband out 
hunting in the forest, and set out towards the castle 
where the young lady lived. Arrived in the grounds she 
walked about there, telling a servant to inform his mis- 
tress that a lady had a most important communication 
to make to her, and that she had come to request an 
audience. Much interested by the account which she 
received of the beauty, courtesy and manners of the 
unknown lady, Mademoiselle de Montmorency went in 
great haste into the gardens and there met her rival 
whom she did not know. 

" My dear," said the poor woman, weeping to find the 
young maiden as beautiful as herself, " I know that they 
are trying to force you into a marriage with Monsieur de 
Chatillon, although you still love Monsieur de l'lle 
Adam. Have confidence in the prophecy that I here 
make you, that he whom you have loved, and who only 
was false to you through a snare into which an angel 
might have fallen, will be free from the burden of his 
old wife before the leaves fall. Thus the constancy of 
your love will have its crown of flowers. Now have the 
courage to refuse this marriage they are arranging for 
you, and you may yet know your first and only love. 
Pledge me your word to love and cherish L'lle Adam, who 
is the kindest of men; never to cause him a moment's 


anguish, and tell him to reveal to you all the secrets of 
love invented by Madame Imperia, because, being 
young, you will be easily able to obliterate the remem- 
brance of her from his mind." 

Mademoiselle de Montmorency was so astonished that 
she could make no answer, and let this queen of beauty 
depart, and believed her to be a fairy, until a workman 
told her that the fairy was Madame de LTle Adam. 
Although the adventure was inexplicable, she told her 
father that she would not give her consent to the pro- 
posed marriage until after the autumn, so much is it in 
the nature of Love to ally itself with Hope, in spite of 
the bitter pills which this deceitful and gracious com- 
panion gives her to swallow like bulls' eyes. During the 
months when the grapes are gathered, Imperia would 
not let Pile Adam leave her. The good woman requested 
him to keep the remembrance of these joys in his heart. 
Then, to know what her lover's real thoughts on the 
subject were, she said to him, " Poor LTle Adam, we 
were very silly to marry — a lad like you, with your 
twenty-three years, and an old woman close on forty." 
He answered her, that his happiness was such that he 
was the envy of every one, that at her age her equal did 
not exist among the younger women, and that if ever 
she grew old he would love her wrinkles, believing that 
even in the tomb she would be lovely and her skeleton 

To these answers, which brought the tears into her 
eyes, she one morning answered maliciously, that Mad- 
emoiselle Montmorency was very lovely and very faith- 
ful. This speech forced LTle Adam to tell her that she 
pained him by telling him of the only wrong he had 
ever committed in his life — the breaking of the troth 
pledged to his first sweetheart, all love for whom he 


had since effaced from his heart. This candid speech 
made her seize him and clasp him to her heart, 
affected at the loyalty of his discourse on a subject from 
which many would have shrunk, 

"My dear love," said she, "for a long time past I 
have been suffering from a retraction of the heart, 
which has always since my youth been dangerous to 
my life, and in this opinion the Arabian physician 
coincides. If I die I wish you to make the most bind- 
ing oath a knight can make, to wed Mademoiselle 
Montmorency. I am so certain of dying, that I leave 
my property to you only on condition that this marriage 
takes place. " 

Hearing this, L'lle Adam turned pale, and felt faint 
at the mere thought of an eternal separation from his 
good wife. 

'Yes, dear treasure of love," continued she. "I am 
punished by God there where my sins were committed, 
for the great joys that I feel dilate my heart, and have, 
according to the Arabian doctor, weakened the vessels 
which in a moment of excitement will burst; but I 
have always implored God to take my life at the age in 
which I now am, because I would not see my charms 
marred by the ravages of time." 

This great and noble woman saw then how well she was 
beloved. This is how she obtained the greatest sacri- 
fice of love that ever was made upon this earth. She 
alone knew what a charm existed in the embraces, 
fondlings, and raptures of the conjugal bed, which were 
such that poor Pile Adam would rather have died than 
allow himself to be deprived of the delicacies she knew 
so well how to prepare. At this confession made by 
her that, in the excitement of love, her heart would burst, 
the chevalier cast himself at her knees, and declared 


that to preserve her life he would never ask her for 
love, but would live contented to see her only at his 
side, happy at being able to touch but the hem of her 

She replied, bursting into tears "that she would 
rather die than lose one iota of his love ; that she 
would die as she had lived, since luckily she could 
make a man embrace her when such was her desire 
without having to put her request into words." 

Here it must be stated that the Cardinal of Ragusa 
had given her as a present an article. It was a tiny 
glass bottle, no bigger than a bean, made at Venice, 
and containig a poison so subtle that by breaking it 
between the teeth death came instantly and painlessly. 
He had received it from the Signora Tophana, the 
celebrated maker of poisons of the town of Rome. 

Now this tiny bottle was under the bezel of a ring, 
preserved from all objects that could break it by 
certain plates of gold. Poor Imperia put it into her 
mouth several times without being able to make up her 
mind to bite it, so much pleasure did she take in the 
moment she believed to be her last. Then she would 
pass before her in mental review all her methods of 
enjoyment before breaking the glass, and determined 
that when she felt the most perfect of all joys she 
would bite the bottle. 

The poor creature departed this life on the night of 
the first day of October. Then was there heard a great 
clamor in the forests and in the clouds, as if the loves 
had cried aloud, "The great Noc is dead!" in imitation 
of the pagan gods who, at the coming of the Saviour 
of men, fled into the skies, saying, "The great Pan is 
slain ! " A cry which was heard by some persons 


navigating the Eubean Sea, and preserved by a father 
of the church. 

Madame Imperia died without being spoiled in shape, 
so much had God made her the irreproachable model of 
a woman. She had, it was said, a magnificent tint 
upon her flesh, caused by the proximity of the flaming 
wings of pleasure, who cried and groaned over her 
corpse. Her husband mourned for her most bitterly, 
never suspecting that she had died to deliver him from 
a childless wife, for the doctor who embalmed her said 
not a word concerning the cause of her death. This 
great sacrifice was discovered six years after the 
marriage of L'lle Adam with Mademoiselle de Mont- 
morency, because she told him all about the visit of 
Madame Imperia* The poor gentleman immediately 
fell into a state of great melancholy, and finished by 
dying, being unable to banish the remembrance of 
those joys of love which it was beyond the power of a 
novice to restore to him ; thereby did he prove the truth 
of that which was said at the time, that this woman 
would never die in a heart where she had once reigned. 

This teaches us that virtue is well understood but by 
those who have practiced vice ; for among the most mod- 
est women few would thus have sacrificed life, in what- 
ever high state of religion you look for them. 


Ah ! mad little one, thou whose business it is to 
make the house merry, again hast thou been wallowing, 
in spite of a thousand prohibitions, in that slough of 
melancholy, whence thou hast already fished out Bertha, 
and come back with thy tresses disheveled, like one 
who has been ill-treated by a regiment of soldiers ! 
Where are thy golden aigulets and bells, thy filigree 
flowers of fantastic design ? where hast thou left thy 
crimson head-dress, ornamented with precious gewgaws 
that cost a minot of pearls ? Why spoil with pernicious 
tears thy black eyes, so pleasant when therein sparkles 
the wit of a tale, that popes pardon thee thy sayings 
for the sake of thy merry laughter, feel their souls 
caught between the ivory of thy teeth, have their hearts 
drawn by the rose-point of thy sweet tongue, and would 
barter the holy slipper for a hundred of the smiles that 
hover round thy vermiilion lips? Laughing lassie, if 
thou wouldst remain always fresh and young, weep no 
more; think of riding the bridleless fleas, of bridling 
with the golden clouds thy chameleon chimeras, of 
metamorphosing the realities of life into figures clothed 
with the rainbow, caparisoned with roseate dreams, and 
mantled with wings blue as the eyes of the partridge. 


By the Body and the Blood, by the Censer and the 
Seal, by the Book and the Sword, by the Rag and the 
Gold, by the Sound and the Color, if thou dost but 
return once into that hovel of elegies where eunuchs find 
ugly women for imbecile sultans, I'll curse thee ; I'll 
rave at thee ; I'll make thee fast from roguery and love ; 

Phist ! Here she is astride a sunbeam, with a 
volume that is ready to burst with merry meteors ! She 
plays in their prisms, tearing about so madly, so wildly, 
so boldly, so contrary to good sense, so contrary to 
good manners, so contrary to everything, that one has 
to touch her with long feathers to follow her siren's 
tail in the golden facets which trifle among the artifices 
of these new peals of laughter. Ye gods ! but she is 
sporting herself in them like a hundred schoolboys in a 
hedge full of blackberries, after vespers. To the devil 
the magister! The volume is finished! Out upon 
work ! What ho ! My jovial friends \ this way ! 

; * & ■" 

>'%'' j"&i 



a *n^^P^i)^5¥f 



Translator's Preface v 


Prologue viii 

The Fair Imperia 1 1 

The Venial Sin 29 

How the good man Bruyn took a wife 29 

How the Seneschal struggled with his wife's 

modesty 42 

That which is only a venial sin 51 

How the said child was procured 59 

How the said love-sin was repented of and 

led to great mourning 64 

King's Sweetheart 72 

The Devil's Heir 87 

The Merrie Jests of King Louis the Eleventh. 108 

The High Constable's Wife 127 

The Maid of Thilouse £46 



The Brother-in-arms , ...... 153 

The Vicar of Azay-le-Rideau 169 

The Reproach 179 

Epilogue 191 


Prologue 195 

The Three Clerks of St. Nicholas 201 

The Continence of King Francis the First.... 2 15 

The Merry Tattle of the Nuns of Poissy 222 

How the Chateau d'Azay Came to be Built.... 236 

The False Courtesan 250 

The Dear Night of Love 263 

The Succubus 275 

Prologue 277 

I What the Succubus was 279 

II The proceedings taken relative to this 

female vampire 294 

III What the Succubus did to suck out the 
soul of the old judge, and what came 

of the diabolical delectation 308 

IV How the Moorish woman of the Rue 
Chaude twisted about so briskly, that 
with great difficulty was she burned 
and cooked alive, to the great loss of 

the infernal regions 314 

Despair in Love 324 

Epilogue # 331 



Prologue 335 

Perseverance in Love . . . 339 

Concerning a Provost Who Did Not Recognize 

Things .■ 35#-(3:> 

About the Monk Amador, who was a Glorious 

Abbot of Turpenay ................. 364 

Bertha the Penitent 381 

I How Bertha remained a maiden in the 

married state 381 

II How Bertha behaved, knowing the bus- 
iness of love 387 

.III Horrible chastisement of Bertha, and ex- 
piation of the same, who died parcidned399 
How the Pretty Maid of Portillon convinced 

her Judge 408 

In which it is demonstrated that Fortune is al- 
ways Feminine 414 

Concerning a Poor Man who was called Le Vieux 

pAR-Cl|,f MINS . 43O 

Innocence ................ . 438 

The Fair Imperia Married 441 

I How Macjame Imperia was caught in the 
very net she was accustomed to spread 

for her love-birds 441 

II How this marriage ended. *,»,,., 450 

Epilogue « » * * •.....••.«•......* ***.«.*. 460 




iVi/\Kl.iAI\C 1 , 

" OI '""" OUH:pf\ O) NAVARRE. 



-J | | j HCTTAMi ^ lN b th ' best known of tie most pop- 
-Ot l ' *- k - ■* -*'•'■' ~ - - uiar of :ili ilia old collections of tales 

in the French Lanpaopo Like iLur "Droll Stories" of B'xlzac, it has 
been 0:0 (ieliph-; ul the unlearned, scholars have commended it, and ■ 
men of talent have borrovoa! from its papes, 

' uoau care has been exeoased b> make llils a handsome volume. It 
■is; illustrated and eo'mpleiap containing 5-10 papes, and is ornamented 
with head and tail piereo 

■ -Phi; subject ox iiu-. xoh.n do not rOPec much fxoin those of Boccaccio, though 
ttjey aid as a rale, occupied vOtb A hPPuex class of scene!), and of necessity display 
a b^c-rc coPOicd conduiou ui juasuiec^ The beO of Pn-m Ate animated by the 
saii.c lipu'iroL veaned vuhpniousur-s ■••vhich 'uiifo;ii;:s so reach ot the writing and 
art :T,tao Erne, and which may indeed be stO.Pi ic< he it;, chief: feature, But this 
■ spirit iuv sciilclom heca presented in a InpO ft- aUracdve as Phai which it bears in 
The IIri,t:u:ricn)a."-OSaiatOnnTO Uistvry of French Literature.. 
><i\ O a decOhOai boakO -JinKVclopeedia BrHuHrac, 

i\'> 1 t T" 1 ni T "n t TOT 1 T V / ^ O V \ \l!"> '\ T\ r V 
|i I' ii ;o •) AllUr UJAII. plA; C 


In compliance with Section 108 of the 

Copyright Revision Act of 1976, 

The Ohio State University Libraries 

has produced this facsimile on permanent/durable 

paper to replace the deteriorated original volume 

owned by the Libraries. Facsimile created by 

Acme Bookbinding, Charlestown, MA 


The paper used in this publication meets the 

minimum requirements of the 

American National Standard for Information 

Sciences - Permanence for Printed Library 





which^ storehouses are the upper stories of old canons 

and wise dames, who remember the good old days win n 
you could enjoy a hearty laugh without looking to see if 
your hilarity disturbed the sit of your ruffle, as do the 
young women of the present day, who wish to take their 
pleasure gravely—a custom which suits our gay France 
as much as a water- jug would the head of a queen. Since 
laughter is a privilege granted to man alone, and he has 
sufficient causes for tears within his reach,, without add- 
ing to them by books, I have considered it a thing most 
patriotic to publish a drachm of merriment for' these 
times, when 'weariness falls like a fine rain, wetting us, 
soaking into us, and dissolving those ancient customs 
which made the people to reap public amusement from the 
Republic. But of those old pantagruelists who allowed 
< ;rod and the king to conduct their own affairs without put- 
ting of their finger in the pie oftener than they could help, 
being content to look on and laugh, there are very few 
left. They are dying out day by day in such manner that 
1 fear greatly to see these illustrious fragments of the 
ancient breviary spat upon, staled upon, set at naught, 
dishonored, and blamed, the which I should be loth to 
see, since I have and bear great respect for the refuse of 
our Gallic antiquities. 

Bear in mind also, ye wild critics, ye scrapers- up of 
words, harpies who mangle the intentions and inventions 
of every one, that as children only do we laugh, and as 
we travel onward laughter sinks down and dies out, like 
the light of the oil-lit lamp. This signifies, that to laugh 
you must be innocent and pure of heart, Jacking which 
qualities you purse your lips, drop your jaws, and knit 
your brow,^ after the manner of men hiding vices and im- 
purities. Take then, this work as you would a group 
or statue* certain features of whiVVi an aw-; 

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